Medical Cannabis Treatment

Medical cannabis can be legally prescribed by a doctor in Australia, however limited research has been carried out into its effectiveness in treating different medical conditions. Presently, it can be prescribed to treat the following conditions:

  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

  • Epilepsy

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Chronic non-cancer pain

  • Palliative care

Accessing Cannabis ​

Medical cannabis can only be prescribed by a doctor after a thorough assessment to decide if the treatment is appropriate for the patient’s condition. Medical cannabis is not presently subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the doctor must apply to the TGA for approval to prescribe it.

​Availability of medical cannabis products is still limited and patients should be aware that there may be 2-3 weeks processing time before their prescription is approved.

Step one:

Firstly, patients must speak to their doctor or specialist about the possibility of using the product

Step two:

If the doctor believes a patient may be suitable, they can apply on the patient’s behalf to the TGA’s Special Access Scheme (SAS).

Step three:

Once the TGA has approved the use of medical cannabis for the patient, the doctor can pass the prescription onto a pharmacy.

Step four:

The pharmacist can order the product through a licensed pharmaceutical distributor

Treatment side effects

Like all prescription medicines, patients can experience possible side effects when using medical cannabis products. According to the Therapeutic Goods Association, these may include

  • fatigue and sedation
  • vertigo
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • appetite increase or decrease
  • dry mouth
  • diarrhea
  • convulsions
  • feelings of euphoria (intense happiness) or depression
  • confusion
  • hallucinations or paranoid delusions
  • psychosis or cognitive distortion

It’s important to speak to your doctor about the suitability of medical cannabis for the treatment of your specific condition. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has released guidance on the benefits of medical cannabis. Visit the TGA website for more details.