There is a lot more work to be done before medicinal cannabis is ready to be rolled out for therapeutic use, pharmacologists caution.

Despite the recent release of a draft (discussion) bill to allow patient access to the drug, they say there are a number of missing links that need to be examined, including gaps around indications, efficacy, safety and dose range.

Writing in The MJA, Professor Jennifer Martin from the University of Newcastle and Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo from St Vincent’s Health in Melbourne, say that several changes to medicines and poisons legislation are required, as well as significant scientific, pharmaceutical, pharmacological and clinical input.

“Although data are available for some already registered cannabinoids, in general, appropriate starting doses and likely toxic doses for other forms of cannabinoids, and in other population groups with different pharmacokinetics are not known,” they write.

Other concerns include quality control, drug stability in different storage conditions, the route of administration and lengths of time the product is prescribed, and the possibility of supplying a potentially misusable substance.

“Clearly, medical practitioners, pharmacists and other health professionals will need training so that inappropriate prescribing and drug diversion are minimised,” the authors write.

They note there are already several safe and effective registered therapeutic goods available for most conditions for which medicinal cannabis may be prescribed.

Now it’s over to trial data to provide evidence that supports its use, they say.

Last Reviewed: 30/05/2016

Reproduced with kind permission from


Medicinal cannabis in Australia: the missing links.