What is Medicinal Cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis (also referred to as medical marijuana) 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’ formulation generally includes one or both of two key components – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The chemicals within the cannabis plant are known as cannabinoids. 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 for therapeutic use.
In Australia, medicinal cannabis products are controlled drugs, 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 Cannabis and Street Cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis products in Australia are approved pharmaceutical products and include a range of preparations for therapeutic use. The quality and purity of medicinal cannabis is carefully controlled and regulated by the Australian Government, unlike street cannabis that is grown and sold illegally. The formulation and dose of medical cannabis, and therefore the effects, are more predictable and consistent, distinctly different to street cannabis which is uncontrolled, and can be contaminated with mould or solvents.
Who is eligible to use Medicinal Cannabis in Australia?
Medicinal cannabis is legally available to buy and use in Australia for patients who meet specific eligibility criteria and if the correct process is followed by the prescribing doctor. The prescribing doctor needs to justify to the Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) why the person needs medicinal cannabis.
Access to medicinal cannabis by way of TGA approval is not limited to a specific list of conditions or symptoms. Eligibility depends on a person having had the condition for at least three months and having tried conventional medical treatment, which was ineffective or resulted in unbearable side effects.
Who can Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis in Western Australia?
In Western Australia, all medical practitioners are eligible to prescribe medicinal cannabis but approval is required by the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In line with the rest of Australia, WA doctors can prescribe medicinal cannabis for Western Australian patients who have not responded to conventional medicine or if their current treatment has intolerable side effects.
Through the TGA framework, the TGA considers each patient’s prescription of medicinal cannabis via the Special Access Scheme (SAS) application. The SAS application is submitted by the prescribing doctor on the patient’s behalf which includes clinical evidence and reasons for treatment, dosing routine, and length of treatment. Another pathway within the TGA framework which allows doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis for a specific condition is the Authorised Prescriber Scheme (APS).
For the most up-to-date and accurate information on cannabis medicine and prescribing medicinal cannabis in Australia, please visit https://www.tga.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis-guidance-documents
How is Medicinal Cannabis delivered in Western Australia?
Any pharmacy in Western Australia can dispense medicinal cannabis products as long as they meet the Department of Health’s requirements – but a doctor’s prescription is required. This prescription is only possible after the doctor receives approval for the patient from the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) through the Special Access Scheme (SAS-B Application) or if the doctor is a TGA approved authorised prescriber.
For more information about medicinal cannabis products in Western Australia please visit the Government of Western Australia Department of Health’s information webpage.
What are the Reasons for using Medicinal Cannabis?
Eligibility for medicinal cannabis in Australia is not limited to a specific list of conditions or symptoms. TGA approval is dependent on each patient’s unique set of circumstances, subject to various eligibility criteria through the Government’s TGA approval framework.
For a number of health conditions, plant-based therapies like medicinal cannabis may be a valid treatment to improve quality of life. 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 patient access and medicinal cannabis as a suitable treatment option, please speak to your doctor or contact one of our consultants.
How is Medicinal Cannabis used in WA?
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. Some people use a combination of options for medical purposes. Medicinal cannabis should not be smoked.
Accessing Medicinal Cannabis in Western Australia
To find out whether medicinal cannabis is an appropriate treatment for you, the first step is to speak to your doctor. If your doctor is willing to pursue this option, but is unsure about the process, your doctor (or you) can contact Cannatrek for more information.
If you believe you may be eligible to access medicinal cannabis, but your doctor is not willing 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?
The Australian Government does not subsidise the cost of medicinal cannabis products under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This means patients need to pay the full cost of products themselves. The cost will vary for each person, depending on the type of product prescribed and recommended dosage. Patients would also need to pay for associated medical treatments and appointments with medical practitioners (telehealth or in-person).
Cannatrek has a number of initiatives in place with doctors and pharmacists to make pain management treatments more accessible and affordable for patients. For a very 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 in Western 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, healthcare 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 Western Australia, 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.