What is Medicinal Cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis 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 term ‘medicinal cannabis’ stems from the scientific name of the plant, cannabis, and also refers to the chemicals within the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids.
Medicinal cannabis products generally include one or both of two key components – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC and CBD are the two main cannabinoids responsible for most of the medicinal benefit of cannabis.
What is the Difference between Medicinal Cannibas and Street Cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis is different to street cannabis for a number of reasons.
Prescribed pharmaceutical cannabis involves isolating useful cannabinoids, refining their production and minimising harm to positively affect health and symptoms. This is different to street cannabis, which is illegal, uncontrolled and harmful, and may be contaminated with (for example) mould or solvents.
Unlike cannabis that is grown and sold illegally, the quality and purity of medical cannabis is carefully regulated. This means the components and dose, and therefore the 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. Method of consumption, dosage, concentration and individual biological factors will all impact the response time to feeling the effects of medicinal cannabis. The method used depends on the person’s needs.
The main ways to take medicinal cannabis are:
VAPORISING: Breathing in vaporised dried cannabis flower; works quicker but is effective for shorter.
ORAL ADMINISTRATION: Swallowing cannabis oil; has a slower effect but lasts for longer.
TOPICAL: Oils can also be added to lotions, gels or creams for topical application; quick effect but short-lasting.
Some people use a combination of the above options as a form of medical cannabis treatment. Medicinal cannabis should not be smoked. For more information on the use of medicinal cannabis in Victoria, and across 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, under certain circumstances, buying and using medicinal cannabis is legal at both Commonwealth Government and State and Territory levels i.e. which includes the Victorian Government.
Legal medicinal cannabis products are only available for people who meet specific eligibility criteria, and if they are prescribed by a doctor who follows the correct process. The prescribing doctor needs to justify to a regulatory government authority, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) why the person needs medicinal cannabis.
The TGA then decides whether to approve the prescription or not. Even though access to medicinal cannabis by way of TGA approval is not limited to a specific list of conditions or symptoms, part of this authorisation requires that a person needs to have had their condition for at least three months. They must also have tried conventional medical treatment, which either did not work for them or gave them unacceptable side effects.
Who can Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis in Australia?
The prescription of medicinal cannabis in Australia is restricted by the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA, as a regulatory healthcare body, allows doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for different conditions and in some exceptional circumstances but needs to approve each patient’s prescription on a case-by-case basis. The TGA does this via an application (called SAS-B) submitted by a healthcare professional on the patient’s behalf. This SAS-B application includes clinical evidence and clinically justified reasons for a patient’s 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
How much does Medicinal Cannabis cost in Victoria?
The Australian Government doesn’t subsidise the cost of medicinal cannabis products through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The cost of medicinal cannabis will vary for each person depending on the type of product prescribed as well as the dosage. Currently the Commonwealth and Victorian Government does not subsidise the cost of medicinal cannabis. Patients (including VIC) need to pay the full cost of products themselves.
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 is committed make pain management treatments more accessible and affordable for all patients with varying medical conditions and has a number of initiatives in place with doctors and pharmacists. For a small number of patients and exceptional circumstances, Cannatrek may be able to reduce costs through clinical trials or concession-based discounts. But this is seldom the case. To find out more, make contact with the Cannatrek team.
How is Medical Cannabis delivered across Australia?
Even though most pharmacies in Australia can dispense medicinal cannabis, a doctor’s prescription is required for the supply of medicinal cannabis to a patient — which is only possible after a doctor receives approval for the patient via the TGA authorisation process. Most pharmacies in Victoria can dispense medicinal cannabis products as long as they meet the Department of Health’s and Victorian Government’s requirements.
Reasons for using Medicinal Cannabis
A patient’s access to medicinal cannabis 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.
Plant based therapies like medicinal cannabis may be a valid treatment option for a number of medical conditions for Victorian patients. Some of the health conditions include sleep and insomnia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, PTSD, palliative care, endometriosis, chronic pain, cancer and anxiety. To find out more about the use of medicinal cannabis as a suitable treatment option for you, please speak to your doctor or healthcare professional (telehealth or in person) or contact Cannatrek.
Accessing Medicinal Cannabis in Victoria
Where conventional medicine is found to be clinically unsuitable for a patient on a case-by-case basis, the Special Access Scheme (SAS) serves as an alternative pathway for prescribers to access medicinal cannabis for individual patients. Specifically for Victorians, The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (Vic) was passed accepting 40 recommendations for patients with exceptional circumstances enabling access for a defined group of patients to medicinal cannabis. For more information about The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (Vic), please visit https://www.lawreform.vic.gov.au/all-projects/medicinal-cannabis
In June 2021 The Office of Drug Control passed additional legislation to support the innovative medicinal cannabis industry in Australia to benefit Australian patients. This legislation not only reduced regulation for businesses operating in the industry but also served to reaffirm the Australian Government’s commitment to a patient’s safe, legal and sustainable access to medicinal cannabis. For more information about The Office of Drug Control’s 2021 medicinal cannabis changes in legislation, please visit https://www.odc.gov.au/news-media/news/enactment-narcotic-drugs-amendment-medicinal-cannabis-act-2021
For patients and carers seeking additional information about accessing medicinal cannabis in Victoria, please visit the Department of Health and Human Services at https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/drugs-and-poisons/medicinal-cannabis/patients-carers
Why choose Cannatrek in Victoria?
Cannatrek is a technology driven Australian company based on the philosophy that plant based cannabis can be an alternative therapy to help people who are not achieving results from conventional medicine.
Founded in 2015 by health economist Tommy Huppert, Cannatrek specialises in the research, cultivation, manufacturing and delivery of medicinal cannabis products. By 2017 Cannatrek was awarded the second cannabis research license placing it in a position to help provide a better quality of life to Australian patients.
After six years of operation and backed by medicinal licenses, Cannatrek manages the entire product lifecycle of plant based therapies. From growth and processing to distribution and sales, Cannatrek relies on an interconnected ecosystem of suppliers, doctors and pharmacies to deliver the best outcomes for patients.
Have more questions? Contact one of our consultants at Cannatrek today.
If you’re looking for more answers around medicinal cannabis products as an alternative form of treatment, Cannatrek can support you with information. If you are eligible, we can streamline the process in connecting you to our network of doctors and medical practitioners. For more information please speak to your doctor 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.