Medicinal Cannabis – clarity through the haze

Medicinal Cannabis – clarity through the haze

Posted on Apr 13, 2023

Medicinal cannabis refers to a range of quality assured, pharmaceutical cannabis preparations intended for therapeutic use. Medicinal cannabis preparations include tablets, oils, tinctures and dried herb. In 2016, Victoria became the first state in Australia to approve their use. Whilst medicinal cannabis has therefore been available through the medical system for some time, we know that some of our patients don’t fully understand how the system works. This article is intended to provide some clarity.

First of all, though, let’s review why medicinal cannabis might be of benefit from a health perspective. Scientific knowledge about how cannabis affects the body is still limited. That said, the evidence base for medicinal use of cannabis is developing quickly and the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration has developed guidance documents suggesting medicinal cannabis may be beneficial for certain conditions, including;

  • epilepsy,
  • multiple sclerosis,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • pain, and
  • palliation.

There are many other potential uses for cannabis-derived treatments, with new applications being investigated in current clinical studies.

Any patient, with any medical condition, can be prescribed medicinal cannabis by their doctor, if your doctor believes it is clinically appropriate and may be beneficial for your condition. Your doctor might provide medicinal cannabis products to treat the symptoms of a medical condition, or the side effects of a medical treatment (e.g., chemotherapy).

While any doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis products, your doctor may need to apply for relevant Commonwealth and/or State approvals before they can issue a prescription to you. At Turn The Corner, Dr. Chance, Dr. Nick and Dr. Tamsin all hold the relevant approvals to issue prescriptions where they deem it appropriate. You would then have that prescription filled by your pharmacist, just like any other drug.

It is important to note that whilst a large number of medicinal cannabis products have been approved for use in Australia by the TGA, they are not currently subsidised by the Government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). In other words, their full cost must be paid by the patient. The costs of medicinal cannabis products can vary substantially, depending on the nature of the condition being treated, the particular product required, and the prescribed dose.

If you are interested in discussing whether medicinal cannabis might be an appropriate treatment option for your condition, please make an appointment with one of the Turn The Corner doctors above at either our Brunswick or our Northcote clinic.