The federal government of Australia legalized access to medicinal cannabis in the year 2016. Following this, there are more than a hundred different products of cannabis in the country that are available to be prescribed to residents of Australia. The prescription of cannabis products requires approval by the therapeutic goods administration TGA under the special access scheme-B (SAS-B). Also, the Authorized Prescriber Scheme is a platform under which General Practitioners (GPs) can prescribe cannabis products. Medicinal Cannabis products come in the form of oral preparation or capsules that have delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabidiol. In addition, dried-flower cannabis products are also available to be prescribed to consumers.
The application for either a Nurse Practitioner or GP to prescribe medical cannabis can be done online through the special access scheme category B (SAS-B) https://www.tga.gov.au/form/special-access-scheme where the approval is given within 24-28 hours. However, the supply chain may lead to delays in pharmacy dispensing of the products as many of the products have to be dispensed through a compounding pharmacy https://brisbanecompounding.com/. Most of the medical cannabis prescriptions are obtained by eligible individuals suffering from chronic non-cancer pain, cancer-related symptoms, anxiety, epilepsy, various neurological disorders, women’s sexual health issues. However, some doctors are still cautious about prescribing cannabis as there are some concerns regarding cognitive impairment, driving, and drugs of dependence, especially the products with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Training courses such as https://www.medihuanna.com/ which is offered as a CPD course through the RACGPhttps://www.racgp.org.au/ provide Healthcare providers a clear understanding in order to feel informed from current validated research of the implications surrounding Medical Cannabis.
There are various online platforms where one can access information about medicinal cannabis prescription in Australia. For instance (https://www.medlab.co/; https://cannatrek.com/), which are biotechnology companies in Australia that develop plant based therapeutics. The companies have launched and have been investigating various products that will aid in the solutions for patients’ in a variety of therapeutic areas such as mental health, gut health, pain management, allergies, and women’s health (Endometriosis & Menopause). Besides, there are other online platforms where one can access the buying of medicinal cannabis online after the prescription process. For instance, (https://anandaprofessional.com/) where an Australian can access to buy medicinal cannabis. These product suppliers of Medical Cannabis refer to medical practitioners (GPs) and Nurse Practitioners who are able to provide patients with an authorized prescription and in addition educate the population on the importance of natural medicine present in cannabis and provide hemp-based medicine.
For the patient finding an appropriate qualified practitioner that understands the range of Medicinal Cannabis products can be difficult. Prescribing Medicinal Cannabis refers to experience and training. At Phenix Health https://phenixhealth.com.au/ we are able to provide 24/7 care 365 days across Australia through Telehealth to eligible patients and can provide prescriptions for medical cannabis medications. The doctor assesses if the condition presented by the patient is treatable with medicinal cannabis and refers to the guidance of the TGA. Then, the in-depth assessment of the condition is conducted where any red flags, as well as comorbidities, are ruled out by the practitioner. Moreover, two therapies are tested for the medical condition of the individual, and their factors such as alcohol and drug abuse, unstable cardiac diseases, and mental health are assessed.
It is after the assessment of the patient that the application of therapeutic goods administration TGA and any permit application of state process is done. If approved, the prescription and permit provision is presented to the patient. The pharmacy sources the cannabis medication under the prescription by the Healthcare provider which is then give through e-script to the patient to chose to complete the prescription and obtain the medicinal cannabis. Furthermore, the above process requires approval by the federal or territory health department such as the Schedule 8 medicines since the products containing THC are included in the controlled drugs under Schedule 8. Therefore, any person in Australia who wishes to be prescribed medicinal cannabis must fulfill the Schedule 8 authorization requirements.
Arnold, Jonathon C., Tamara Nation, and Iain S. McGregor. “Prescribing medicinal cannabis.” Australian Prescriber 43.5 (2020): 152.