Responding to Mr Hunt: My Vision for Medicinal Cannabis in Australia

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

  • Brett Sokes

    thank you Dr Towpik.
    I agree with your intentions.
    And many of your suggestions are useful.
    I advocate for 100% legalisation of cannabis.
    The end of cannabis prohibition will see lower prices and better quality.
    We will build new industries and create a healthy happy and prosperous Australia.

  • Denise C

    Thank you for providing a detailed response. Not a Medical person but I am always a bit flabbergasted to see how difficult it is for Australians. I speak with so many people O/S that are utilising regulated CBD oil and getting great results for MS spasticity, sleep and continence issues. I know it’s not a cure. One product to replace 2-3 meds is peace of mind even if it is just for a time.

  • Kathy Lukic

    Dear Teresa,
    Thank you for your letter to Greg Hunt. Unfortunately again we are met with the same bullshit excuses. In this country the pharmaceutical companies have their hands right up the TGA’S backside and until our politician’s change that we will wait and wait, and more people will suffer and die. With our prime minister’s wife being the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company that is working on new cancer medications we have no hope of getting the legislation changed. I don’t understand how that is not conflict of interest..
    We need a change of government and fast. #EnoughIsEnough

    • Roger Perry

      I think Kathy Lukic has hit the nail squarely on the head when she points out the conflict of interest issues between government agencies and the Big Pharma. Herein lies the main problem. It’s not that more research is needed before we can begin giving some relief to those in need. Why can we not cultivate a few of these amazing plants for our own private use? Who gives government officials the power to dictate to us what we may and may not put into our own bodies? Have they become gods? Cannabis is one of the most amazing plants we know of, obviously designed by a Higher Intelligence and meant for our use and benefit. This trend of government banning natural plant medicine from the citizens is evil and must stop. Instead of spending so much tax payer money on penalizing and jailing non-violent and otherwise law-abiding citizens, that money would be better spent on education and research into the benefits and uses of plant medicine.

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