MEDICAL CANNABIS IN AUSTRALIA

You are wondering how you can access Medical Cannabis, legally?

Here are some answers…

From October 2016, legislation was passed allowing the legal supply of Medical Cannabis products to those in need. Since then, there have been many changes to Medical Cannabis laws in Australia and the Office of Drug Control (ODC) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) made a number of improvements to the approval processes. As of 30 July 2018 an online system was introduced to enable the lodgement of Special Access Scheme (SAS) applications and notifications through an online portal.

As a individual, you cannot apply for Medical Cannabis directly. Access to Medical Cannabis can only be arranged through an Australian registered medical practitioner. A doctor has to assess each patient to decide if cannabis treatment is appropriate for their condition and individual circumstances. The doctor will gather the patient’s medical history and will also take into consideration the patient’s current medication and any other problems with drug dependence or abuse.

Medical Cannabis products are not registered medicines in Australia and they have to be accessed through special pathways available only for doctors. Only a registered medical practitioner can apply on a patient’s behalf to the TGA for approval. Each case is assessed individually and authorisation is granted on a case-by-case basis.

There are several ways to administer medicinal cannabis: by inhalation, orally, topically, or rectally. Each delivery does not result in equivalent bioavailability and hence the route of administration can be an important factor in the choice of treatment.

The Australian medical cannabis market has variety of products and the determination of the method for medicine administration will depend on patient’s medical condition, familiarity, preferences and duration of action.

The inhalation method seems to be the most common method and generally preferred by patients. It should be noted that raw, dried cannabis flowers and leaves should be vaporised but not smoked. Smoking cannabis burns cannabinoids and increases exposure to toxic carbon monoxide and tar. That’s why vaping delivers a much more efficient cannabinoid extraction. The vaping method begins to work within few minutes with peak effect around 30 minutes and may last between 2-3 hours. Burleigh Heads Cannabis is an authorised supplier of medical cannabis products for that type of medicine administration method.

The next most common method is oral administration. Oral methods include tinctures, extracts in oils, sprays, brownies and chocolates. The oral method usually works within 30 minutes with peak effect within 1 hour and may last up to 6 hours.

The topical methods in forms of creams, balms and patches usually have an onset of action within 1 to 2 hours and last between 6-8 hours. Patches deliver controlled release of cannabinoids and effectiveness may last up to 2 days.

The rectal (suppository) method is used by patients who are unable to inhale or ingest cannabis. This method works relatively fast between 10-15 minutes and lasts up to 8 hours.

The Australian Government provided a “cannabis use patient information guide” that you can access it through their website.

References:

https://www.tga.gov.au/form/special-access-scheme

https://www.tga.gov.au/form/authorised-prescribers

https://www.burleighheadscannabis.com/

https://www.odc.gov.au/manufacturers-and-suppliers-medicinal-cannabis-products

https://medihuanna.com/product/introduction-medicinal-cannabis-easy-guide-doctors-patients-dr-towpik-ebook/