“However, it is important that medicines are thoroughly tested to ensure they meet rigorous standards before being placed on the market, so that doctors and patients are assured of their efficacy, quality and safety’’ – Home Office UK spokesperson regarding medicinal cannabis

That sounds about right, doesn’t it? It would be if only access to medicinal cannabis wasn’t constantly blocked and denied.

As a GP in Australia, I am unable to prescribe it without the endorsement of a specialist. One of my patients is still waiting for state approval since July last year, even though it has already been approved by the TGA. NSW Health keeps coming up with one excuse after the other to continue denying access.

 

I wrote a letter to Mr Greg Hunt recently and stated the following:

As a caring GP, a doctor who has been studying cannabis medicine through my own research I state the following. The process of prescribing medicinal cannabis continues to be difficult and impossible to sustain. I am a very busy GP, so how can I find the time to go through so much paperwork. It is so much easier for me to write another script for oxycontin. It has to change, otherwise we’ll have to wait another 10 years to practice cannabis medicine the way it should be done, patient centered, based on individual dosing, access to different strains and formulations.

As a clinician, I believe that following should happen:

  • Cannabis formulations up to 1% THC and any % CBD should be available over the counter.
  • I support home growing of cannabis up to 5 plants for personal use, allowing the raw parts of the plant to be utilised (juicing of the raw leaves provides many health benefits with no psychoactive effects because cannabinoids are in acid form).
  • Any other formulations with THC>1% available on prescription.
  • Prescribing rules kept consistent throughout Australia governed by one regulator to avoid duplicating the process between federal and state.
  • One application form only without all the excessive paperwork to justify the clinical decision.
  • All health professionals, including GPs, specialists, herbalists, naturopaths and nurse practitioners should be allowed to prescribe after completing an appropriate course and passing exams. RACGP should support ongoing cannabis education.
  • Health professionals to collect data and share with researchers to continue ongoing scientific examination as part of n=1 studies.

I would love to see the development of cannabis clinics in which doctors and allied health professionals can work together utilising an integrative approach. Each clinic would have its own dispensary with high quality medicinal cannabis formulations. Patients would receive proper assessment, management, monitoring and recommendations would be sent to their treating doctors. I strongly believe in developing a network between ethical growers, manufacturers, pharmacists and health professionals.

The government should stop controlling health professionals and focus on ensuring that high quality medicinal cannabis is consistently delivered. I believe in whole plant medicine due to the important entourage effect. This can only be possible once cannabis is legalised properly and obstacles to prescribing removed.

Unfortunately, the current situation does not support using medicinal cannabis properly. It’s very sad that over 100,000 patients are forced to resort to the black market, missing out on professional medical guidance.

 

I am hoping Mr Hunt responds to my letter so I continue to discuss these issues with him further. There’s still much work to be done Australia!

Mr Hunt’s letter to Dr Towpik

6 thoughts on “Responding to Mr Hunt: My Vision for Medicinal Cannabis in Australia

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