Medical cannabis is, in short, cannabis prescribed by doctors to treat various conditions. Doctors in Australia have written over 390,000 medical cannabis prescriptions since its legalisation in 2016. Emerging research suggests that the two primary compounds in cannabis – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – may play a role in managing several chronic conditions, ranging from multiple sclerosis to chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety and more.
What’s The Difference Between Medical Cannabis and Marijuana?
Cannabis goes by many names – you’re probably most familiar with “marijuana”, but this term has specific connotations. Marijuana typically refers to cannabis obtained via the black market. It’s often difficult or impossible to tell exactly what’s in street weed and there’s no reliable way to measure your dose when smoking, which is the most common way illicit cannabis is consumed.
Medical cannabis, by contrast, is carefully grown and held to a strict safety standard to ensure it’s not contaminated by pesticides, microbes, heavy metals and other harmful substances. Medical cannabis is also grown with certain techniques and conditions in mind to create specific balances of cannabinoids, terpenes and other medicinal compounds. This careful process is designed to produce high-quality cannabis strains tailored to treat particular conditions.
Doctors don’t recommend smoking medical cannabis, so the most common way it’s consumed is through vaporisation of the dried flower, or through concentrated oils, capsules, topical creams and lotions. These methods of cannabis consumption allow you to carefully dose your medical cannabis and avoid the harmful effects of smoke inhalation.
How to get Medical Cannabis?
Currently the TGA deems medical cannabis as an experimental medication. To be eligible for a medical cannabis prescription, you need to have a chronic condition (i.e. one that has lasted for 3+ months) and to have tried other conventional treatments first and found them to be ineffective or that they caused unwanted side effects.
Some chronic conditions that may benefit from medical cannabis are
- Chronic pain
- Cancer pain and nausea
- Neuropathy/Nerve pain
As an emerging pharmaceutical, all medical cannabis prescriptions need to go through one of two schemes devised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA):
- Special Access Scheme: the SAS allows doctors to apply for a medical cannabis prescription on behalf of their patient if the doctor believes it will help their condition.
- Authorised Prescriber Scheme: doctors can apply to the TGA to become authorised prescribers of unapproved medications for a particular class of patients.
Almost all the medical cannabis prescriptions in Australia occur through the SAS and approvals usually take 24-48 hours.
At Murray House Clinic, Dr Kwai Lee is an authorised prescriber at Murray House Clinic.
If you are interested in exploring medical cannabis, please contact the clinic for a medical cannabis appointment as these appointments need to be longer appointments and there will be paperwork to be prefilled.