What is Medicinal Cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis (also referred to as medical marijuana) is any product that contains cannabis or components derived from cannabis that is prescribed by a doctor to treat the symptoms of a medical condition.
The chemicals within the cannabis plant are known as cannabinoids. Medicinal cannabis products generally includes one or both of two key cannabinoid components – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC and CBD are the two main cannabinoids responsible for most of the medicinal benefit of cannabis. Ongoing research is being done on the potential uses of other cannabinoids.
What is the Difference between Medicinal Cannabis and Street Cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis is different to street cannabis because of its quality and purity. Medical cannabis is carefully regulated making the effects more predictable, consistent and controlled. This is different to street cannabis which is grown and sold illegally, uncontrolled and harmful, and may be contaminated with (for example) mould or solvents.
Who is Eligible to use Medicinal Cannabis in Australia?
Buying and using medicinal cannabis in Australia is legal under certain circumstances. Eligibility for medical cannabis depends on specific criteria and is not limited to a specific list of conditions or symptoms.
A doctor can legally prescribe medicinal cannabis by following the correct process. This process requires the prescribing doctor to justify to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) — a regulatory government authority — why the person needs medicinal cannabis. The person would need to have had the condition for at least three months and must have tried conventional medical treatment which either didn’t work or resulted in unbearable side effects.
The TGA then decides whether to approve the prescription or not.
Who can Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis in Australia?
In Australia, the prescription of medicinal cannabis is restricted by the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). However, the TGA does allow a doctor to prescribe medicinal cannabis for a patient who has not responded to conventional medicine or if the current treatment has unbearable side effects.
As a regulatory healthcare body, the TGA needs to approve each patient’s prescription of medicinal cannabis. The TGA does this via a Special Access Scheme (SAS-B) application submitted by the prescribing doctor on the patient’s behalf. The SAS-B application to the TGA includes clinical evidence and reasons for treatment, dosing routine, and length of treatment.
For the most current and accurate information on medical cannabis and the process around prescribing medicinal cannabis in Australia, please visit the TGA website https://www.tga.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis-guidance-documents
How is Medicinal Cannabis delivered in New South Wales?
Most pharmacies in NSW can dispense medicinal cannabis products as long as they meet the Australian Department of Health’s requirements. This includes a doctor’s prescription, which is only possible after the prescribing doctor receives approval for the patient from the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) through the Special Access Scheme (SAS-B Application).
For more information on prescription and dispensing of cannabis medicines, please visit https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pharmaceutical/cannabismedicines/Pages/prescriptions-and-dispensing.aspx
How Medical Cannabis Works and its Benefits
Medical cannabis is a plant based therapy that has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. With hundreds of different active compounds shown to help a range of varying medical conditions, medicinal cannabis is a valuable therapy option for many Australians.
Plant based therapies like medicinal cannabis may be a valid treatment to improve quality of life for a number of health conditions. Some of the health conditions include sleep and insomnia, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, PTSD, palliative care, endometriosis, cancer pain and anxiety. To find out more about medicinal cannabis as a suitable treatment option, please speak to your doctor or contact one of our consultants.
How is Medicinal Cannabis Used?
Medical cannabis is available in a number of formats and the method and suitability for medical use depends on the person’s needs.
Breathing in vaporised dried cannabis flower works quicker but is effective for shorter. Oral administration by swallowing cannabis oil (like CBD oil) has a slower but longer-lasting effect. Topical application where cannabis oils are added to lotions, gels or creams has a quick but short-lasting effect.
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 medical purposes in NSW and in Australia, please visit https://www.tga.gov.au/publication/guidance-use-medicinal-cannabis-australia-overview
Accessing Medicinal Cannabis in NSW
The first step in determining whether medicinal cannabis is an appropriate treatment option for you is to first speak to your doctor or medical practitioner (via telehealth or in person). After your initial consultation, if your doctor (as the prescriber) is unsure about the process, you or your doctor can contact Cannatrek for more information.
If you believe you may be eligible to access medicinal cannabis, but your doctor is unwilling to investigate this option, you can contact Cannatrek and we can connect you with a doctor who has experience in prescribing medicinal cannabis.
If you are already eligible for medicinal cannabis treatment and get in touch with us, we can streamline the process for you – from initial consultation, through TGA approval, to delivery of the prescribed product.
How much does Medicinal Cannabis Cost in Australia?
The Australian Government does not subsidise the cost of medicinal cannabis. Australian patients need to pay the full cost of medical cannabis products themselves. The cost will vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the type of product prescribed and the dosage. Typically, the cost can range from $30 to $100 per week. Patients also need to pay for associated medical treatments and appointments (face-to-face or telehealth).
Cannatrek has a number of initiatives in place with doctors and pharmacists to make pain management treatments more accessible and affordable for all patients. For a small number of patients, Cannatrek may be able to reduce costs through clinical trials or concession-based discounts. Although this is often not the case. To find out more, make contact with the Cannatrek team.
Why Choose Cannatrek?
Cannatrek was founded in 2015 by health economist Tommy Huppert borne out of the philosophy that plant based therapies can be an alternative treatment to help people not achieving results from traditional medicine. In 2017 Cannatrek was awarded the second cannabis research license placing it in a position to help give Australian patients better access to high quality medicinal cannabis products for a better quality of life.
Have more questions? Contact one of our consultants at Cannatrek today.
To learn more about medicinal cannabis in Australia and accessing medicinal cannabis products in Sydney, please speak to a health professional or contact Cannatrek directly on 1300 122 662. For general enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org or for access-related enquiries email email@example.com.