The Australian Federal Government legalised access to medicinal cannabis in 2016.
There are now more than 100 different cannabis products available for doctors to prescribe. Most are oral preparations (oils) or capsules containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabidoil. Dried-flower products are also available.
As most products are unregistered drugs, prescribing requires approval under the Therapeutic Goods Administration Special Access Scheme-B or Authorised Prescriber Scheme.
Special Access Scheme B applications can be made online, with approval usually being given within 24-48 hours. However, supply chain problems may delay dispensing by the pharmacy.
By the end of 2019, over 28,000 prescribing approval had been issued to patients, involving more than 1400 doctors, mostly GPs. More than 70,000 approvals are projected by the end of 2020.
Most prescriptions are for chronic non-cancer pain, anxiety, cancer-related symptoms, epilepsy and other neurological disorders. However, the evidence supporting some indications is limited.
In Australia many doctors are still cautious about prescribing cannabis. While serious adverse events are rare, there are legitimate concerns around driving, cognitive impairment and drug dependence with products containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.Cannabidoil only products pose fewer risks.
Greater awareness and education is still required to minimise the misconception of the use of cannabis as medicine. I believe GP confidence will continue to increase as more scientific evidence and is provided as well as training on the subject.
While they play catch up do your own research and arm yourself with knowledge and a better understanding of what CBD is!