How to get a medical marijuana card in Australia

Pathways to get medical marijuana in Australia are quite different from what you hear about in places like the USA, Canada or Israel. Despite medical cannabis becoming legally accessible in 2016, many people are still unaware of this change or how to access this plant-based therapy. 

Here we break down for you the basics of accessing medical cannabis in Australia.

How to get a medical marijuana card in Australia?

Unlike the USA and other countries, Australian patients do not receive a medical marijuana card to access medical cannabis. 

Australia opened up opportunities for patients to access legal medical cannabis nearly 6 years ago, and over time accessibility and wait times have gradually reduced. Instead of receiving a medical marijuana card, Australian patients need a prescription from a doctor or specialist.

Pathways to access medical cannabis in Australia

Although therapeutic cannabis is legal in Australia, there are few cannabis medications approved by the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA). This means medical cannabis products are classed as unapproved medicines, requiring additional application processes.

There are three ways to access medicinal cannabis in Australia:

  • Special Access Scheme B (SAS-B)
    This is the most used pathway to access in Australia. It involves your GP or medical cannabis doctor like those at CA Clinics making an application to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
  • Authorised Prescriber (AP)
    An Authorised Prescriber can be any medical practitioner that has been approved by the TGA to prescribe medical cannabis for certain conditions or a specific product. Unlike SAS-B, APs don’t need to put in an application for each new patient.
  • Clinical Trials
    Taking part in a clinical trial is another way to access medical cannabis. 

Supporting evidence is required showing other approved medicines have been tried and were unsuccessful at fully addressing your health condition. CA Clinics doctors provide comprehensive assessment and treatment plans for people eligible for medical cannabis prescriptions, find out more about how it works here.

CBD oil access in Australia

As of February 2021, low-dose CBD has been rescheduled by the TGA to a Schedule 3 pharmacist-only medication. Even though it is technically legal to access CBD oil in Australia through pharmacies without a prescription, there are currently no products available in store. 

However, low-dose CBD oil is available to people experiencing sleep disturbances, anxiety or mild chronic pain who are seeking short-term relief through virtual consultations with a cannabis practitioner. To see if you’re eligible to access low dose CBD oil, get in touch with CA Connect.

Speaking to your GP about medical cannabis

It’s always a great idea to start by speaking with your regular GP about your health concerns and medicinal cannabis queries. Knowing your health history and regular medications makes your regular doctor well placed to guide you towards the best treatment options for you.

But don’t be disheartened if your GP says they don’t have the expertise or knowledge to discuss medical cannabis with you. Although it may seem like cannabis medicines have been popping up in your news feed for eons, clinical research and practitioner education are still catching up.

Eligibility and Access to medical marijuanas

Currently, medical marijuana, otherwise known as cannabis is available for conditions such as chronic pain, palliative care, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, plus many other conditions where there is supporting research. 

CA Clinics experienced clinicians can provide advice about whether medicinal cannabis might benefit you. Contact us at [email protected] for more information, or register here.

By Jessica Kindynis BHSc Nat

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