New legislation passed in Queensland last week will now make it easier to acquire medical cannabis.
What this new legislation means
According to Queensland Health, any registered medical practitioner can now prescribe medical cannabis. They can do this for any of their patients with any condition “if they believe it is clinically appropriate and have obtained the required Commonwealth approval.”
This means that a regular GP will be able to prescribe medical cannabis if they consider it to be appropriate treatment for their patients.
Under Australian law, medical cannabis products are classified as either Schedule 4 or Schedule 8 controlled substances. The Queensland Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 now states:
“Queensland doctors can prescribe Schedule 4 – cannabidiol (CBD) and Schedule 8 – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or tetrahydrocannabinol: cannabidiol (THC:CBD) products without a Queensland approval.”
Previously, only a small group of specialist practitioners were allowed to prescribe the drug. These doctors had to be registered with Queensland Health and apply for each script with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
However, doctors will still need to provide clinical evidence for treatment. Basically, they will need to prove that a medical cannabis product — such as THC, CBD or a combination of both — will help with your condition or symptoms.
Medical cannabis treatment
Queensland Heath has listed several conditions that medicinal cannabis may be suitable for. However, it states that research is still being conducted and current scientific evidence is limited. The list includes:
- 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 forms of chronic non-cancer pain.
Queensland Health states that medical practitioners should not prescribe medical cannabis as an alternative treatment for cancer. It also says that standard treatment should not be swapped out “in favour of using medicinal cannabis.”
Queensland approval will still be required in cases where it is believed that a drug dependent person is seeking treatment with a schedule 8 medical cannabis product.
This is just another step in Australia’s slow move to being more accepting of legal cannabis useage.
On January 1, 2020, the ACT’s cultivation and possession laws came into effect. The new legislation allows people in the ACT to possess 50 grams of dried cannabis and two cannabis plants, with a cap of four plants per household.
While this legislation has not legalised marijuana in the territory (it’s complicated and you can read more here) it works to decriminalise it.