FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

What is Medicinal Cannabis?

In Australia, Medicinal Cannabis refers to a range of quality assured, pharmaceutical cannabis preparations intended for therapeutic use.
Medicinal Cannabis products must be prescribed by a doctor to treat the symptoms of a medical condition or, the side effects of a medical treatment (e.g., chemotherapy). Medicinal cannabis preparations include tablets, oils, tinctures, dry flower and other extracts.

How can I find a GP to prescribe Medicinal Cannabis?

Any doctor can prescribe Medicinal Cannabis. However, if you wish to consult a doctor familiar with prescribing Medicinal Cannabis, you can book a telehealth appointment with a GP at Greencare website.

What’s the difference between THC and CBD?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the constituent of cannabis that causes the “high,” whereas CBD (cannabidiol) is not intoxicating at typical doses. THC and CBD have contrasting mechanisms of action and therapeutic uses; THC carries a higher risk of side effects, especially psychoactive, compared with CBD.
Medicinal use of cannabis based products and cannabinoids. BMJ 2019;365:l1141

Is using Medicinal Cannabis safe and what are the side-effects?

Like all prescription medicines, Medicinal Cannabis products can have side effects. These may include:
• fatigue and sedation
• vertigo
• nausea and vomiting
• fever
• appetite increase or decrease
• dry mouth
• diarrhoea
• convulsions
• feelings of euphoria (intense happiness) or depression
• confusion
• hallucinations or paranoid delusions
• psychosis or cognitive distortion (having untrue thoughts)
The extent of side effects can vary with the type of Medicinal Cannabis product and between individuals, with the latter psychoactive side effects occurring with products containing CBD only.

How is Medicinal Cannabis different from what I can get online?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has warned consumers about the risks of buying Medicinal Cannabis products online. Medicinal Cannabis products bought online may be unsafe, of poor quality, or contain a different dose to what the label claims.
It may seem like a simple, affordable option, but products bought over the internet may be a serious risk to health and a waste of money.
Products sold on the black market, especially from online sellers that do not request a doctor’s prescription, are unlikely to achieve the desired results and can be very dangerous.
Counterfeit (fake) products mimic authentic goods but may contain undeclared hazardous ingredients. A lack of manufacturing and testing standards may also result in contaminated products. Using fake products can put you at serious risk of unpredictable or severe adverse reactions.

When will CBD products be available over the counter?

In December 2020, TGA approved low-dose CBD containing products to be supplied over-the-counter by a pharmacist without prescription. However currently there are no TGA-approved products that meet Schedule 3 requirements and it is unlikely Australians will see CBD oil over the counter until 2023.
So currently legal CBD is only available with a doctor’s prescription in Australia.

How can I get Medicinal Cannabis?

You can only access legal Medicinal Cannabis products via your treating doctor or specialist, and only if they believe Medicinal Cannabis will help treat your condition.
The first step is to discuss Medicinal Cannabis with your doctor. If they agree Medicinal Cannabis is appropriate, they will need to decide which Medicinal Cannabis product to prescribe to you and get any necessary government approvals.

What does Medicinal Cannabis cost?

The cost of Medicinal Cannabis products can vary substantially from $50 to $1000 per patient per week, depending on the nature of the condition being treated, the particular product required, and the prescribed dose.
Only one Medicinal Cannabis product is currently subsidised by the Commonwealth Government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for a rare form of paediatric epilepsy, otherwise the full cost must be paid by the patient.

Is there research supporting the use of Medicinal Cannabis in Australia?

Yes. In addition to companies, the NSW Government has provided over $9 million towards clinical trials in five areas to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of cannabis medicines.

What’s the driving law regarding Medicinal Cannabis?

There are various Medicinal Cannabis products available containing different combinations of active ingredients, suitable for different conditions. Many contain delta – 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the cannabinoid known to have psychoactive (affecting the mind) properties.
The use of Medicinal Cannabis products containing THC may decrease a patient’s ability to perform some tasks due to its impairing effects on mental alertness and physical coordination.
As there is little evidence or guidance available about the recommended period of time between consuming THC and driving, it is recommended that patients do not drive or perform hazardous tasks, such as operating heavy machinery when taking THC-containing Medicinal Cannabis products.
In addition, it is a criminal offence to drive with THC present in saliva, blood or urine. Patients should discuss the implications for safe and legal driving with their doctor.
All patients should ensure they are purchasing their prescription through legitimate channels to avoid the possibility of inadvertently taking a product that contains THC when it claims to be THC-free.

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