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Medicinal Cannabis Australia

Medicinal cannabis in Australia is suitable for treating a range of medical conditions, according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Cannabinoids (CBDs) found in the hemp plant are highly effective in plant based medicines made in Australia, for Australians.

, Medicinal Cannabis

About medical cannabis

Medicinal cannabis prescribed in Australia should first be distinguished from recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis made with CBD doesn’t give the ‘high’ associated with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Medical CBD cannabis can be prescribed by your treating doctor or allied health professional if you:

  • Have a medical condition diagnosed by a doctor
  • Are not responding to other medicines, or are experiencing side effects.

Your medical cannabis prescription can be filled by a local pharmacist. 

Cannabinoid clinical trials show the usefulness of medical cannabis in addressing a number of illnesses and ailments. 

Benefits of medical cannabis

Medical cannabis has been approved for more than a decade as a treatment for some people with multiple sclerosis and childhood epilepsy. Clinical trials continue to uncover cannabidiol benefits for a number of conditions, such as:

Anxiety: Clinical trials have shown the use of medicinal cannabis can reduce anxiety.

Chronic pain: Studies suggest CBD can ease cancer pain and lower arthritis pain.

Insomnia: Many patients experience better sleep with the aid of CBD oil.

Multiple Sclerosis: Nabiximols and Sativex improve muscle spasticity

Addictions: CBD can help ease cravings for tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.

Palliative care: Medicinal cannabis can be an adjunct to other palliative care measures.

There are lots of medical conditions that can be addressed using CBD oil and other medical marijuana products.

Medical cannabis is non-psychotropic and should not be compared to THC, opioids, or narcotic drugs. CBD products are safe to use, with very few side effects or contra-indications.

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Medicinal cannabis is any product that contains cannabis, or components derived from cannabis, that is prescribed by a doctor to treat the symptoms of a medical condition.

Medicinal cannabis products generally include one or both of two key components – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These components are responsible for most of the medicinal benefit of cannabis.

The components of medicinal cannabis interact with one of the body’s inbuilt systems (the endocannabinoid system), to influence the way the body regulates things like inflammation and pain. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) tends to make people feel sleepy and relaxed and is considered intoxicating. It may improve appetite, reduce nausea, and help with insomnia. Cannabidiol (CBD) tends to reduce anxiety and seizures. It is not considered intoxicating and may reduce some of the intoxicating effect of THC. Both THC and CBD can reduce pain and inflammation.

Medicinal cannabis is used to treat people with chronic pain and other symptoms from a variety of chronic conditions, for chemotherapy-induced nausea, or during palliative care.

It is important to discuss potential side effects with your doctor. The risks and potential side effects of medicinal cannabis depend on the type of product, and the individual. Cannabidiol (CBD) generally has minimal side effects. However, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known for making people feel ‘high’. Common side effects for both include:

  • Tiredness or drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Euphoria
  • Cognitive effects

Balnce also advises against smoking or vaping cannabis, as this poses risks to lung health.

Medicinal cannabis can interact with some other medications. It is important to tell your doctor about all prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you use or plan to use.

It is important to discuss potential risks of medicinal cannabis with your doctor. In general, you should avoid using medicinal cannabis if you:

  • Have allergies or hypersensitivity to cannabis or carrier oil.
  • Are pregnant, breastfeeding, or hope to become pregnant during the treatment period.
  • Have a psychiatric condition
  • Have certain heart or lung conditions

Law and regulation

Yes. Medicinal cannabis is legal in Australia if an authorised prescriber (doctor) decides the treatment appropriate for you, you receive approval for use from Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and you obtain the medicinal cannabis with a valid prescription.

To be eligible for medicinal cannabis, you must:

  • Be over 18
  • Be an Australian resident
  • Have had a chronic condition for at least three months
  • Have exhausted all conventional treatment options, or experienced adverse unacceptable side effects from these treatments

To access medicinal cannabis in Australia, you will need to consult with a doctor. They then need to apply for approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) on your behalf. If you are eligible and your application is approved, the doctor will help you access the medication.

The process to get TGA approval, then receive your prescription, is:

  1. Discuss your health, needs and options with your doctor.
  2. If your doctor thinks medicinal cannabis is appropriate for you, they will apply to the TGA on your behalf.
  3. If your application is approved, this usually happens within 48 hours.
  4. The doctor writes your prescription, which goes to a pharmacy.

Laws about driving with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from medicinal cannabis in your system vary across states and territories. It is best to check your state’s or territory’s laws carefully.