Provided they meet the requirements of their local state or territory, most pharmacies in Australia can dispense medicinal cannabis products.

As the majority of medicinal cannabis formulations are not currently listed on the ARTG, doctors have to receive approval from the TGA through the Special Access Scheme (SAS-B Application) to prescribe it.

The medicinal cannabis dispensing process

When the TGA grants SAS-B approval for a patient to trial a specific medicinal cannabis formulation, the doctor will give the patient:

  •  A copy of their TGA approval (containing a unique code to that approval) 
  •  A script for the supplier and formulation specified on the application. The script will also include the patient’s TGA approval code, contact number, and the titration schedule for the specific product. 

To dispense any medicinal cannabis products, you must be provided with both of these documents. Unapproved medicines cannot be stocked without a TGA approval and a prescription, so medicinal cannabis products can only be ordered once these are obtained.

Doctors who are Authorised Prescribers can sometimes send their approval documents directly to you, or instead to the product sponsor. However, even in these cases, the supplier will still need to see the TGA approval documents before they can ship the product to you, the pharmacist.

It’s recommended that you check that the patient is aware of the costs involved in fulfilling their prescription before ordering any products from the supplier. Some pharmacies also request patients pay before they place supplier orders.

When dispensing medications, it is a requirement that any event, including adverse events, be reported to the TGA and the product’s supplier within 15 days.

How to order medicinal cannabis products from Cannatrek

Cannatrek has simplified the process of ordering medicinal cannabis. When a patient presents you with a script (or eScript) for one of our products, all you need to do is head to our Cannatrek Plus portal. There you will find information about our products, as well as all the tools for managing orders.

On the platform, complete the order details, supply the necessary TGA approval documentation, and we’ll do the rest.

Cannatrek dispatches orders received before midday on the same day, Monday to Friday. Please note, medicinal cannabis products cannot be dispatched until all approvals have been received. If all the correct documents are provided, the whole process can be completed within 72 hours of placing the order.

If you have a prescription you need to fulfil, or whether you’d just like to understand the process a little better, please contact our team.

Cannatrek dispatches orders received before midday on the same day, Monday to Friday.

Storage and handling medicinal cannabis

The rules and regulations around ordering, storing, dispensing, recording, reporting and disposing of unwanted or expired therapies differ based on how they’re scheduled.

Medicinal cannabis products are scheduled for the most part on their cannabinoid content. Products with less than 2% of the total cannabinoid content as THC, or with 98% or more as CBD are usually classified as Schedule 4 medicines. For these products, the relevant state and territory processes for ordering, handling and dispensing Schedule 4 medicines must be followed.

Medicinal cannabis products with a greater than 2% THC proportion of total cannabinoid content are classified as Schedule 8 medicines. While it varies by state and territory, Schedule 8 medicines generally have stricter requirements for ordering, storage, handling and dispensing procedures.

Schedule 8 medicine storage usually requires a locked safe or a locked room. Access to stored Schedule 8 medicines must be restricted to those pharmacists who have no undertakings from AHPRA on their registration to dispense controlled Schedule 8 products.

The TGA has indicated it is considering amendments to regulations, to allow some medicinal cannabis products to become over-the-counter medications. The proposed amendments would classify these products as Schedule 3 medicines. Over-the-counter medicinal cannabis products are currently slated to be available in 2021. If you would like us to keep you informed of developments on this issue, please contact us.