Medicinal cannabis: a little care is needed
There’s a lot of international enthusiasm for the use of cannabis, particularly specially developed medicinal cannabis, for things like pain relief, epilepsy and appetite stimulation in cancer and HIV AIDS.
The trouble is, say some experts, there are still significant gaps in knowledge which could put users at risk.
The issues are pretty basic.
The evidence isn’t clear on how effective cannabis products are, how safe and the right doses. They simply are not well studied medications and the result is that doctors aren’t sure which patients would benefit, which cannabis product to prescribe and in what form (tablet, smoked or vapor).
In addition, pharmacists don’t know the best way to store cannabis and keep the products secure.
Whilst still illegal in Australia, authorities are turning a blind eye to personal importation and use for medical purposes. Some experts are saying they’re starting to see side effects such as reduced thinking and memory particularly in older patients.
There are trials of medicinal cannabis being conducted and which have yet to report but in the meantime it’s buyer be wary, especially if you’re importing what could be an unknown product from overseas.
Last Reviewed: 08/10/2019
© Norman Swan Medical Communications.
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: 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 (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 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.
Cannabis: what is it?
Cannabis is a drug derived from Indian hemp plants such as cannabis sativa. Its main active chemical is THC.