Medicinal cannabis is any product derived from the cannabis (sativa or indica) plant that is used as a medicine. Its history as a traditional medicine stretches back millennia and across the globe.READ More >
Australians had access to medicinal cannabis until an international treaty listed it as a prohibited substance in 1925. Even though Australian health authorities advised that it was not a drug of serious concern, some state jurisdictions began restricting cannabis early in the last century.1
In 2016 Australia became one of the first forward-thinking countries to legalise medicinal cannabis, which shows real potential to help Australian patients. We’re still discovering a lot about its therapeutic potential.
Medicinal cannabis works on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). We’re still building our understanding of this complex system, which researchers discovered only a few decades ago.
The ECS is connected to a network of receptors in our brain, central nervous system and peripheral organs and tissues. It has been shown to modulate and regulate memory, mood, appetite, pain and other immune system responses.
Your body naturally produces compounds called endocannabinoids that interact with these receptors to keep your body in balance. Plant-based cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interact with these exact same receptors, and their only known source is the cannabis plant.
Medicinal cannabis partially binds to two primary receptors, CB1 and CB2, which affect both body and mind. Plant-based cannabinoids can help balance our endocannabinoid system and facilitate greater well-being.
You can ingest medicinal cannabis in a variety of ways – through your skin, digestive system, sublingual glands and lungs – and each comes with its own unique characteristics and advantages.
Below are some of the differences between common medicinal cannabis ingestion methods. Speak with your doctor to determine what's best for you.
Formats: Balms, patches
Onset Time: Variable
There are a number of conditions where patients have been approved for medicinal cannabis prescriptions by the TGA, however there is no approved or official list. Ultimately it is at your healthcare professional’s discretion to determine whether it’s the best treatment for you and if you meet the requirements for access.
Accessing Medicinal Cannabis
Kind medicinal cannabis products are available only with an approved prescription via the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Special Access Scheme (SAS-B) or through an Approved Prescriber (AP).
Visit your GP to discuss medicinal cannabis as a treatment option.
It’s best to see the GP who has been treating your existing condition/s to discuss whether medicinal cannabis is a suitable treatment option. From here, there are two typical pathways: (1) Your GP will apply for approval to prescribe medicinal cannabis for you under the Special Access Scheme (SAS-B); or (2) Your GP will refer you to a specialist cannabis doctor or clinic for further consultation.
(1) SAS-B Pathway
Your GP applies for permission to prescribe you medicinal cannabis.
Your GP will lodge a SAS-B application with the TGA to get approval to prescribe you medicinal cannabis. They will need to specify why they are recommending the use of medicinal cannabis and how they plan to monitor your treatment.
It normally takes around 2 days for a SAS-B request to be approved. Once approved, your GP will provide you with a treatment plan and prescription and discuss your options for getting it filled with you.
(2) Specialist Cannabis Doctor or Clinic Pathway
Your GP refers you to a specialist cannabis doctor or clinic.
Your GP will provide a referral, including your medical history, to a doctor or clinic that specialises in medicinal cannabis. You and the doctor will discuss your medical condition/s and history and he or she will determine if medicinal cannabis is right for you.
If the doctor is an Authorised Prescriber (AP), he or she can provide a prescription immediately, otherwise it will involve obtaining SAS-B approval (takes around 2 days). Once approved, the doctor will provide you with a treatment plan and prescription and discuss your options for getting it filled with you.
Call your pharmacy to discuss your prescription.
Pharmacies have to order in medicinal cannabis so we recommend you call them to place an order for your medication.
Begin treatment, following the dosage guidance provided to you.
It's important to understand how to use medicinal cannabis before starting treatment. Read through the Consumer Medical Information (CMI) and run through any questions you have with your doctor or pharmacist. Follow the dosage and titration guidelines and always seek immediate medical assistance if you experience severe or unexpected side effects.
Check in with your GP or specialist cannabis doctor and continue your medicinal cannabis education.
Your GP or specialist cannabis doctor will be required to check-in with you to track your treatment and adjust your plan if necessary. The science behind medicinal cannabis is continually evolving; subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest research and Kind Medical product information.