In this article we will be discussing medicinal cannabis; what it is, what it is used for and the strict rules around how it can be prescribed.
Medicinal cannabis is a form of treatment that uses the whole, unprocessed cannabis plant or its basic extracts. The cannabis plant contains many different chemicals, including over 100 compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are active chemicals that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the brain.
There are two main types of medicinal cannabis products:
Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) – these are made from cannabis plants that have a high THC content. THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and is responsible for the ‘high’ feeling often associated with cannabis use.
CBD-based medicinal products – these are made from cannabis plants that have a high CBD content. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis and is not responsible for the ‘high’ feeling often associated with cannabis use.
Medicinal cannabis products are used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:
Cancer – medicinal cannabis can be used to relieve the symptoms of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting.
Epilepsy – medicinal cannabis can be used to treat certain types of epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome.
Chronic pain – medicinal cannabis can be used to relieve chronic pain.
Multiple sclerosis – medicinal cannabis can be used to relieve the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as muscle spasms and pain.
The medicinal use of cannabis is a growing area of research and there are many ongoing clinical trials investigating the safety and efficacy of various cannabis-based medicinal products.
In order to be prescribed medicinal cannabis in Australia, patients must firstly obtain a prescription from a medical practitioner. Prescriptions for medicinal cannabis products can only be made by specialist medical practitioners who have completed an accredited education program in medicinal cannabis prescribing.
Once a patient has been prescribed medicinal cannabis, they must then obtain the medicinal cannabis product from an authorised supplier. Authorised suppliers of medicinal cannabis products are registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and must meet strict quality standards.
Medicinal cannabis products are not currently subsidised by the Australian Government, so patients will need to pay for the medicinal cannabis product themselves. The cost of medicinal cannabis products can vary depending on the type of product and the supplier.
If you are considering this treatment, it is important to speak to your medical practitioner about whether it is appropriate for you. Medicinal cannabis is a regulated medicinal product and its use needs to be carefully monitored by a medical practitioner.
Our Medicinal Cannabis Clinic is run by Dr Michelle Groves who is an authorised specialist prescriber for Medicinal Cannabis. To book an appointment with Dr Groves, please call us on 07 5531 3205 or book online.