What is Medicinal Cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis is any product that contains cannabis or components derived from the cannabis plant that is prescribed by a doctor to treat the symptoms of a medical condition.
Medicinal cannabis products generally include one or both of two major components – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC and CBD are the two main cannabinoids responsible for most of the medicinal benefit of cannabis. There are other components of cannabis being researched for possible therapeutic use.
In Australia, medicinal cannabis products are regulated by the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Office of Drug Control (ODC).
What is the Difference between Medicinal Cannibas and Street Cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis is different to street cannabis because medical cannabis involves isolating useful cannabinoids, refining their production and minimising side effects to positively affect health and symptoms. This is different to street cannabis, which is illegal, uncontrolled and harmful, and may be contaminated with mould or solvents. In addition, the high quality and purity of medical cannabis is carefully regulated so that the components, dose, and effects are more predictable, consistent and controlled.
Medicinal Cannabis Products Available
Medical cannabis is available in a number of formats which means prescriptions can be administered in a number of ways, depending on an individual’s needs. These include: breathing in vaporised dried cannabis flower and vape concentrate; ingestion or sublingual (under tongue) by swallowing cannabis oil (like CBD oil), oral spray or softgels; and topical application where cannabis oils are added to lotions, gels or creams.
Method of consumption, dosage, concentration and individual biological factors will impact the response time to feeling the effects of a medical cannabis product. Some people use a combination of options for their treatment plan. Medicinal cannabis should not be smoked.
For more information on the use of cannabis for health reasons in Australia, please visit https://www.tga.gov.au/publication/guidance-use-medicinal-cannabis-australia-overview
Who is Eligible to use Medicinal Cannabis in Australia?
In Australia, buying and using medicinal cannabis is legal and available for people who meet specific eligibility criteria, under certain circumstances, and if prescribed by a doctor who follows the correct process. The prescribing doctor needs to justify to the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) why the person needs medicinal cannabis.
The prescribing doctor’s application is done via the Federal Government’s TGA’s Special Access Scheme (SAS) submitted by a healthcare professional on the patient’s behalf. This SAS application includes clinical evidence and clinically justified reasons for a patient’s treatment, dosing routine, and length of treatment. The TGA then decides whether to approve the prescription or not.
In SA, under the State Government’s South Australian Controlled Substances legislation, State approval is also required for Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis products which are being prescribed for longer than two months, already exceeding two months, or if a medical specialist believes the person has a drug dependency. For more information, please visit SA Health’s Frequently Asked Questions on Medicinal Cannabis.
For the most up-to-date and accurate information on prescribing medicinal cannabis in Australia and requirements for Commonwealth approval, visit the TGA website https://www.tga.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis-guidance-documents
Who can Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis in Australia?
The prescription of medicinal cannabis in Australia requires Commonwealth approval or notification within the framework of the respective Commonwealth schemes. These include the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme (SAS), Authorised Prescriber Scheme, or Clinical Trials Schemes.
For patient prescriptions, the TGA needs to approve each prescription on a patient-by-patient basis. The TGA, as a regulatory healthcare body, allows General Practitioners (GPs) and medical specialists through the Special Access Scheme (SAS) to prescribe medical cannabis for patients with different health conditions and in some exceptional circumstances.
Reasons for using Medicinal Cannabis
Plant-based therapies like medical marijuana have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years as a viable treatment for a number of health conditions. In recent years, the Australian Federal Government has regulated the cannabis industry through legislation permitting approved cannabis companies (under license) to cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis for medical or scientific purposes.
Patient access to cannabis medicines is subject to various eligibility criteria on a case-by-case basis by way of TGA approval. Eligibility is not limited to a specific list of conditions or symptoms but rather dependent on each patient’s unique set of circumstances. Although TGA approval requires that a person needs to have had their condition for at least three months and must have tried conventional medical treatment, which either was ineffective or resulted in unbearable side effects.
Plant based therapies like medicinal cannabis may be a valid treatment option for a number of health conditions which include sleep and insomnia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, PTSD, palliative care, endometriosis, chronic pain, cancer pain and anxiety. For more information about the use of medicinal cannabis treatment, please speak to your doctor or contact Cannatrek.
How is Medical Cannabis delivered across Australia?
Pharmacies across Australia are permitted to dispense medicinal cannabis but a doctor’s prescription is required, dependent on TGA approval. Pharmacies in South Australia can dispense medicinal cannabis products as long as they meet the Department of Health and the South Australian Government’s requirements.
How much does Medicinal Cannabis cost in South Australia?
The Australian Government does not subsidise the cost of medicinal cannabis products. Patients need to pay the full cost of products themselves. The cost of medicinal cannabis products will vary for each person depending on the type of product prescribed as well as the dosage. Patients also need to pay for associated medical treatments and appointments.
Cannatrek is committed to making pain management treatments more accessible and affordable for all patients with varying medical conditions with has a number of initiatives in place with doctors and pharmacists. For some patients and exceptional circumstances, Cannatrek may be able to reduce costs through clinical trials or concession-based discounts. Although this is seldom the case, to find out more, make contact with the Cannatrek team.
Why choose Cannatrek in South Australia?
Cannatrek is a technology-driven Australian company specialising in the research, cultivation, manufacturing and delivery of medical cannabis. Founded in 2015, Cannatrek is borne out of the philosophy that plant-based therapies can be an alternative way to help people not achieving results from traditional medicine. Backed by medicinal licenses and six years of operation, Cannatrek relies on an interconnected and trusted ecosystem of suppliers, medical practitioners and pharmacists, committed to enhancing Australian patients’ quality of life.
Have more questions? Contact one of our consultants at Cannatrek today.
If you’re seeking answers around medicinal cannabis products as an alternative form of treatment, Cannatrek can support you with information wherever you’re based — from Adelaide stretching across all areas of SA. If you’re eligible, we can streamline the process in connecting you to our network of doctors, health professionals and medical practitioners. For more information please speak to a health practitioner or contact us directly on 1300 122 662. For general enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org or for access-related enquiries email email@example.com.