Medical cannabis is an alternative treatment option to relieve symptoms related to chronic conditions. These plant-based treatments contain CBD, also known as cannabidiol, and/or THC, also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
CBD and THC are the two primary active compounds found in cannabis. They are extracted and used in a variety of medical cannabis products. The former is a non-psychoactive compound and has no intoxicating effect. The latter has psychoactive properties and will cause users to feel the characteristic “high” associated with marijuana.
We’re still in the early phases of researching how effective these treatments are, and experts are emphasising the need for long-term clinical trials and controlled studies. The encouraging signs are plentiful though, and many believe in the therapeutic potential of plant-based products with CBD and/or THC.
The world’s view on the controversial plant is slowly changing as more research comes to the fore, and the previously banned substance is being legalised in numerous places throughout the world.
When was medical cannabis legalised?
The medical cannabis legislation in Australia changed in 2016. The Government created channels for patients in need to access medical cannabis provided they have a valid prescription from a qualified medical practitioner.
CBD is categorised as a Schedule 4 prescription-only medicine while THC is categorised as a Schedule 8 controlled substance. The law now also allows for certain low-dose CBD products to be classified as Schedule 3 over-the-counter medicines, but there are no existing products that meet these requirements yet. This means that you will need a valid medical prescription for all medical marijuana products in Australia.
Medical cannabis is federally legal, but the laws surrounding it differ between states and territories.
A Medical Cannabis Scheme was established in the ACT to ensure patients have safe and legal access to medical marijuana to high-quality medicinal cannabis products in circumstances where it is clinically appropriate.
Patients should consult with a doctor who has received approval from the TGA to prescribe medical cannabis. If the health practitioner believes that the plant-based treatment will be effective, they will write a prescription for medical cannabis. The doctor will then arrange for a pharmacist to dispense the medication for you. While cannabis has been decriminalised in the state, it is still not legal to buy weed in Canberra.
The NSW government allows qualified medical practitioners to access legal, safe and effective pharmaceutical-grade cannabis medicines where they believe it to be an appropriate treatment option for their patient
Individual patients cannot apply to access and import unapproved cannabis medicines. Legal access can only be arranged via a qualified medical practitioner, and patients must consult with their doctor. Approval and authorisation are granted on a case-by-case basis.
The Northern Territory does not have any extra steps or specific regulations in addition to the general federal laws surrounding medical cannabis. Patients should consult with a qualified medical practitioner who can accurately analyse their health.
A qualified health practitioner with approval from the TGA can advise on whether or not the plant-based treatment is suitable for the circumstances of the patient.
In Queensland, you can apply for a medical cannabis card if there is clinical evidence to suggest that it may be effective for your condition and mainstream medicine is failing to prove effective.
Patients may consult with their doctor to determine if medical marijuana is a suitable therapy for conditions or symptoms.
SA Health is committed to making sure that Australians can access an optimal range of treatments and services to promote the best health outcomes for patients and the community. As such, medical cannabis is available for patients with a valid prescription from an authorised medical practitioner.
The decision is a matter of discussion between the patient and the medical practitioner. If the practitioner believes it is clinically appropriate, they will prescribe the plant-based treatment.
Patients should discuss the risks and benefits of medical cannabis with a doctor before using the plant-based treatment. If CBD or THC would be suitable for the patient’s circumstances.
The doctor can prescribe medical marijuana if they believe it’s clinically appropriate, and they have the necessary approval from the Commonwealth and State authorities. For some THC medicines, the prescriber will need to be present at the pharmacy and practising in Tasmania at the time for it to be dispensed.
Medical marijuana can be prescribed by any doctor in Victoria for any condition if they believe it is clinically appropriate to do so.
If a doctor believes that medicinal cannabis is the right move going forward, they will need to obtain approval from the Commonwealth and State, usually issued within 48 hours of receipt. Once the approval has been confirmed, the doctor will prescribe the relevant product.
Any doctor in Western Australia can prescribe medicinal cannabis if they believe it is appropriate and they have required the necessary government approvals. The prescription-based treatment can be dispensed at any pharmacy in the state.
Mainstream medicine must have failed to work for the patient, and the doctor must be of the opinion that the plant-based treatment may help.
The legal status of medical cannabis is quickly changing all throughout the world. After spending years as a prohibited substance, there has been a global renewed effort to perform reliable research on the substances.
The early encouraging signs have seen many places legalise both THC and CBD for medical purposes. In 2016, the Australian Government changed the law to allow patients with a valid prescription to access the medicinal plant-based treatments.
Each state and territory has its own laws, but in general, doctors will need to believe it’s clinically appropriate to prescribe medical cannabis to the patient. The health practitioner must also have the necessary approvals from the Commonwealth and State authorities.
For more information on the states where medical cannabis has been legalised, our qualified experts are ready and willing to assist. Don’t hesitate to reach out today.