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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.

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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.

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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 Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 regarding the prescribing of scheduled drugs of dependence (S8), including script requirements, and approvals/reports to the Chief Executive for the treatment of patients with known drug dependency.

Prescribers can obtain further information by visiting enquiry service for clinicians page or by phoning the 13 S8INFO (13 78 46) enquiry service.

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.

You should not:

  • consider medicinal cannabis as an alternative treatment for cancer
  • delay starting standard cancer treatments in favour of using medicinal cannabis.

Restrictions

Patients are not approved to smoke cannabis as this exposes them to many of the same health risks as smoking regular cigarettes. Vaporisation using an approved vaporiser is a possible alternative.

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.