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’ formulation isolates useful cannabinoids, refines their production and minimises side effects to positively affect health and symptoms. This is markedly different to street cannabis, which is illegal, uncontrolled and harmful, and may be contaminated with mould or solvents. Medical cannabis’ high quality and purity is carefully regulated so that the components, dose, and effects are more predictable, consistent and controlled.
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.
Medicinal cannabis as a plant-based therapy may be a valid treatment option for a number of health conditions. These 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.
Who is Eligible to use Medicinal Cannabis in Tasmania?
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 submitted on the patient’s behalf via the Federal Government’s TGA Special Access Scheme (SAS). The SAS online application pathway would require clinical evidence and clinically justified reasons for a patient’s treatment, dosing routine, and length of treatment. Access to medicinal cannabis by way of TGA authorisation is not limited to a specific list of conditions or symptoms. The TGA then decides whether to approve the prescription or not.
For Tasmanian patients, there have been some positive changes in recent years for patients accessing medical cannabis to align the State with the rest of Australia. In 2017, the Tasmanian Government developed the Controlled Access Scheme (CAS) to allow medical practitioners access to subsidised medicinal cannabis for patients. On 16 March 2021 the State Government, under the leadership of Premier Peter Gutwein, announced changes in accessing medical cannabis in Tasmania effective 1 July 2021. These changes aligned with other Australian jurisdictions allowing GPs to prescribe medicinal cannabis products and pharmacies to dispense them subject to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) by way of the Special Access Scheme (SAS).
For more information on Tasmanian State Government legislation, please visit http://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/psbtas/medicinal_cannabis/information_for_prescribers
Accessing Medicinal Cannabis in Tasmania
The first step in assessing whether medicinal cannabis is available and appropriate for you is to speak to your doctor. If your doctor, as the prescriber, is willing to pursue this option but is unsure of next steps, they (or you) can contact Cannatrek for information. If your usual doctor is not willing to pursue this option and you believe you may be eligible to access medicinal cannabis, you can contact Cannatrek to connect you with a doctor who has experience in prescribing medicinal cannabis. If you are 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.
Who can Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis in Tasmania?
The TGA regulates and restricts the prescription of medicinal cannabis in Australia, permitting registered Tasmanian GPs and medical practitioners to prescribe medicinal cannabis for patients who have not responded to conventional medicine or if their current treatment has unbearable side effects.
As a regulatory healthcare body, the TGA needs to approve each patient’s prescription on a case-by-case basis through the Special Access Scheme (SAS). Submitted by the prescribing doctor on the patient’s behalf, the SAS application to the TGA includes clinical evidence and clinically justified reasons for treatment, dosing routine, and length of treatment.
For the most up-to-date and accurate information on prescribing medicinal cannabis in Australia, visit the TGA website https://www.tga.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis-guidance-documents
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.
How much does Medicinal Cannabis cost in Tasmania?
Tasmanians with serious illness who have not responded to conventional therapies have access to subsidised medicinal cannabis when prescribed through the Tasmanian Health Service (THS) relevant medical specialist pathway. Tasmania is the only jurisdiction in Australia that subsides medical cannabis in these cases.
In all other cases, the Australian Government does not subsidise the cost of medicinal cannabis. This means patients would need to pay the full cost of prescribed medical cannabis products themselves. The cost will vary for each person depending on the type of product, frequency of use and dosage. For a small number of patients, Cannatrek may be able to reduce costs through clinical trials or concession-based discounts. However, this is not often possible. Contact the Cannatrek team to learn more.
Why Choose Cannatrek in Tasmania?
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, healthcare specialists, general practitioners and pharmacists, committed to enhancing Australian patients’ quality of life.
Have more questions? Contact one of our consultants at Cannatrek today.
To learn more about medicinal cannabis and accessing medicinal cannabis products in Tasmania, please speak to a doctor 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.