Medicinal cannabis treatment
The Australian Government Department of Health regulates therapeutic medicines containing cannabinoids through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and for importation or production, the Office of Drug Control.
Access is restricted to appropriate patients with medical conditions where there is evidence to support its therapeutic use.
Patients living in Queensland
A patient living in Queensland must access medicinal cannabis through a doctor who is authorised under the Special Access or Authorised Prescriber Scheme administered by the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
In Queensland, all doctors can prescribe Schedule 4 – cannabidiol (CBD) and Schedule 8 – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or tetrahydrocannabinol: cannabidiol (THC:CBD) products without a Queensland approval.
For further information read the TGA website’s Access to medicinal cannabis product page, or phone 1800 020 653.
Approvals doctors require to prescribe medicinal cannabis
Doctors require a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval to prescribe unregistered medicinal cannabis products in Queensland. These approvals are granted under the Commonwealth Department of Health, Special Access Scheme Category B (SAS Cat B) or Authorised Prescriber Schemes. Please use TGA Online to make your application.
There are various regulatory requirements under the Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021 regarding the prescribing of monitored medicines (including Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis), including prescription requirements, and compliance with relevant departmental standards.
Conditions that medicinal cannabis can be prescribed for
Queensland laws do not limit what symptoms or conditions may be applied for by your doctor. When making a TGA application the doctor will need to supply sufficient scientific evidence that supports the use of medicinal cannabis for the particular symptom or condition.
Research continues to be conducted on the potential uses of medicinal cannabis. The scientific evidence base suggests that medicinal cannabis may be suitable to treat:
- severe muscular spasms and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- some types of epilepsy with severe seizures
- palliative care (cachexia, nausea and vomiting, pain)
- some types of chronic non-cancer pain.
There is no evidence that medicinal cannabis is an effective primary treatment for cancer.
- consider medicinal cannabis as an alternative treatment for cancer
- delay starting standard cancer treatments in favour of using medicinal cannabis.
Smoking medicinal cannabis exposes patients to many of the same health risks as smoking regular cigarettes. Vaporisation using a TGA approved vaporiser is a possible alternative. Please be aware that in Queensland personal vaporisers are smoking products under the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998 (Qld) and cannot be used in smoke-free areas. In most circumstances it is an offence to use medicinal cannabis with a personal vaporiser in a smoke-free area including at enclosed public places and at health facilities.
Doctors seeking approval to use a specific product will need to provide evidence of its safety and efficacy for the condition or symptom being treated to the TGA.
Participating in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are often run by pharmaceutical companies to find out about how their product behaves in patients.
Clinical trials often set entry criteria and use clinical protocols so that the results are as useful as possible. Recruitment for clinical trials is sought by a range of means including through the peak bodies for certain conditions, for example Epilepsy Queensland. Speak with your doctor to find out if there are any clinical trials for your condition.
Queensland does not have amnesty for medicinal cannabis
Access to medicinal cannabis in Queensland must be for a legal product prescribed by an approved doctor and dispensed by an approved pharmacist.