How To Access Medical Cannabis In Australia?

It is estimated that Australia has more than 15,000 medical cannabis patients who rely on limited, and sometimes, unclear prescription guidelines to get their medicines. Legally, it is a must that you get a doctor’s prescription before you can get medical marijuana – clinical trials, authorized practitioners, and general practitioners. There is a clear process that should be well understood if you are to purchase and use cannabis for medicinal purposes.

How To Get A Prescription From A General Practitioner.

This is considered the first step towards getting your first dose of CBD oil or medicinal cannabis. A general practitioner is best placed to understand your medical history and therefore suggest the most ideal treatment. Save for Tamara which does not allow a GP to prescribe cannabis, all the other states give them the authority. This means that getting your first dose can be as easy as getting your family doctor to make a recommendation as long the set eligibility criteria are adhered to.

The prequalification process can however be complex. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) must be furnished with as much information as possible about the patient prior to the approval. Some of the most common requirements are:

  • The specific medical condition for which the medical cannabis product is being prescribed.
  • Enough data regarding the safety of the product in question.
  • Comprehensive clinical justification for the use of medicinal cannabis and why other alternatives might not be the best.
  • An outline of patient monitoring to cushion them against any side effects and tracking of their responses to the treatment.

It is important that the practitioner is not at liberty to recommend just any product in the market. They are obliged to choose a specific product from the SAS portal that has been prequalified for different conditions.

For requirements that need research justification, the GP should rely on existing clinical research. Most of this information can be availed by the manufacturer of the product whose approval is being sought.

Upon submission of the above information, the TGA usually responds within 72 hours. They can either approve the request or simply ask for more data to support the application. It is important to note that TGA does not reject such applications.

For rejections, the doctor is required to furnish TGA with the requested information before proceeding. In case it is approved, then an appointment is set up to go through a treatment plan with the patient. Only one SAS B application can be made at a time.

The following are important factors for your general practitioner:

  • In-depth knowledge of your medical history.
  • Clear understanding or interest in learning more about medical marijuana.
  • Ready to undertake the tedious application process on behalf of the patient.

The Authorised Prescriber

An authorized Prescriber is a medical practitioner with the TGA authorization to prescribe cannabis-infused products to manage or treat specific conditions. These doctors usually undergo a rigorous pre-approval process. These are not specialists because even GPs can be APs. They must however exhibit extensive experience in medicine, especially in medical marijuana.

The process can be long, requiring applicants to answer numerous questions such as the suitability of different products for managing or treating specific medical conditions, recommended dosages, conventional remedies for the same conditions, and why they are not suitable, among others.

The main advantage of APs over GPS is that they do not have to apply afresh to TAGs for each patient or product. They also can give a prescription on the spot so long as they are authorized to do so. If they are allowed to prescribe more than one product, they are at liberty to do so depending on your specific needs and condition. The same applies to changes in products.

Get A Prescription Through Clinical Trials.

Taking part in clinical marijuana trials is another option that you can get access to medicinal cannabis in Australia. However, this is the least popular because a large percentage of the population is still skeptical or lacks the requisite knowledge to inform their participation. These trials are available for various categories covering a wide variety of medical conditions. All you need to do is to sign up for any ongoing or upcoming trial.

Cannabis Clinics.

You can also get your CBD oil products through cannabis marijuana clinics. They are managed by GPs and APs, specialized in prescribing only cannabis products for managing specific medical conditions. They also understand the complex SAS process, a factor that helps improve approval rates of new applications.

While some clinics may require referrals for one to get a prescription, others do not. A referral is highly recommended because it allows the doctors to go through the patient’s medical history and can always be consulted if more information is needed. In case you get referred by your GP, you are better off with a GP that does not require a referral.

Irrespective of the method you use to access medicinal cannabis, you must ensure that you have as much information about its efficacy and safety as possible. Note that some states may have specific marijuana-related regulations that you may have to abide by. Always ensure that you understand these laws to avoid any inconvenience. If you must choose between a GP or an AP, the latter would be a better option considering their pre-authorization and in-depth knowledge of cannabis.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Prescription?

With the relatively complex application and approval process, how long it takes to get your prescription will depend on the pathway you choose. The best way to get fast approval for applications made by the GPs is to furnish the ATG with all the relevant information during submission.

To get the prescription fast, an authorized practitioner is your best bet in most cases. However, there are some factors that might come into play, especially the pre-authorized circumstances that may cause some delays.

Furthermore, if you are engaging the doctors directly, it is possible that you can get your script that can be taken to an authorized pharmacy for a subsequent prescription. In case you opt for a telehealth appointment, then the clinic or the doctor may decide the pharmacy for you and order the product. In this case, you will not have access to the script.

Final Thoughts.

While cannabis extracts have proven to be effective in managing different conditions, their access for medical purposes is strictly through the Special Access Schemes. This means that they are not covered by insurance companies.

You therefore must cover the costs of prescription by yourself. It is also important that you consult your doctor before trying out any cannabis products legally. A script is necessary from your GP to facilitate this.

It is also essential to understand the common medical conditions whose symptoms can be managed by taking CBD oil. It is easy to prescribe marijuana to current users as opposed to new users. This is because of the psychoactive nature of marijuana owing to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Your choice of the type of product might be limited, but if you are to choose, it is always recommended that you purchase a reputable cannabis product.

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