Video: Accessing medicinal cannabis in Australia
Medicinal cannabis is legal in Australia, but is not yet a first line therapy for any medical condition.
It is available under the Special Access Scheme from approved prescribers, for conditions such as epilepsy, chronic non-cancer pain, multiple sclerosis, palliative care and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
The cannabis plant produces over 200 chemical compounds but the two main chemicals are – cannabidiol or CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
- THC is psychoactive – it can make you high
- CBD is not psychoactive.
The dose and ratio are still in trial stage and vary depending on the condition and what a patient can tolerate.
Each patient is thoroughly screened and has usually exhausted all other treatments. Patients found suitable are carefully monitored by their approved prescriber and doctor.
Known side effects include nausea, sleepiness, diarrhoea, and possibly hallucinations, psychosis. However, results are promising for some patients – recent research has shown in severe forms of epilepsy it may reduce seizures by 50%, and, anecdotally, some patients have reported a reduction in chronic pain.
The field of medicinal cannabis is exciting but there are still many hurdles –
it is currently very expensive and yet to be placed on the PBS
access is only via an approved prescriber
standardisation of quantity and quality
it is illegal to drive when taking medicinal cannabis
travelling interstate or overseas is yet to be tested.
Talk to your GP about medicinal cannabis and read the information on this website.
Last Reviewed: 05/11/2018
Video: Medicinal cannabis in Australia
Medicinal cannabis is now available in Australia for some conditions. Dr Norman Swan introduces medical experts who are prescribing medicinal cannabis in Australia and 2 patients who are taking medicinal cannabis.
Medicinal cannabis (medical marijuana) is cannabis that's prescribed by a doctor to relieve symptoms or treat a condition. There are several natural and man-made types that can be accessed in Australia.
Medicinal cannabis: Professor Chye extended interview
Professor Richard Chye, Director of the Sacred Heart Hospice and Palliative Care at St Vincent's Hospital Sydney, talks about medicinal cannabis, the dangers of unregulated cannabis products, and where medicinal cannabis is most effective.
Medicinal cannabis: Professor Scheffer extended interview
Professor Ingrid Scheffer, paediatric neurologist, discusses the use of medicinal cannabis in children with severe epilepsy, outlining which types of epilepsy medicinal cannabis is most useful for, and the possible side effects.
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