A natural plant-based solution
A traditional plant therapy, cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for over 1000 years.
Acting on the endocannabinoid system within the body, medical cannabis (also called medical marijuana) is used as a medical treatment for a number of conditions and their associated symptoms.
Although the regulation and legality of cannabis has shifted over time, its acceptance back into mainstream healthcare is increasing as is the research around it use.
Understand more about medical cannabis and how to access it in Australia.
What Is Medical Cannabis
The Endocannabinoid System
Buying CBD Oil
Street vs Medical Cannabis
Australian medical cannabis products
Little Green Pharma offers a range of cannabis medicines that meet strict Australian labelling and quality requirements. Explore the range combined with information on how to access these medicines via an independent doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Medical cannabis (also called medical marijuana) refers to the use of the cannabis plant and its component cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) as a medical treatment for certain conditions and their associated symptoms.
The flowering head of the cannabis plant contains the highest concentration of cannabinoids, differing to hemp oil which, in Australia, comes from pressing seeds
derived from the hemp plant.
It should be noted that referring to cannabis as though it were one type of medicine is misleading as there are various forms that medicinal cannabis can take as well as a range of strengths and varieties.
Medical grade cannabis is highly regulated and adheres to pharmaceutical standards in regards to quality, safety and production unlike illegal cannabis.
Over 144 cannabinoids have been isolated within the cannabis plant but the main cannabinoids that are clinically used today are: Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD and THC have almost identical chemical makeup. The main difference between the two is that THC can have psychoactive effects like euphoria, whereas CBD is non-intoxicating, is non-addictive and less potent than THC with very low toxicity.
Cannabis formulations have different ratios of THC to CBD. Each formulation:
- Provides different therapeutic effects.
- Interacts differently with each person’s endocannabinoid system and biochemistry.
- Can have a different side effect profile in patients.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) grants medical practitioners access to unapproved medicines, such as medicinal cannabis, via the Special Access Scheme and Authorised Prescriber pathways. To see all the Special Access Scheme Category B (SAS B) applications received for medicinal cannabis products by the TGA (categorised by condition) please visit the TGA webpage – https://www.tga.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis-special-access-scheme-category-b-data
Yes, these two terms are used interchangeably.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Australia since 2016.
As medical cannabis is a relatively new healthcare treatment option for Australian doctors, some practitioners may lack experience or are not comfortable prescribing medicinal cannabis. As most medicinal cannabis products are currently not registered, the regulatory framework also imposes different and generally more challenges and time-consuming requirements than those applicable to TGA-approved and established products.
If you would like assistance in finding a prescriber who is open to medical cannabis as a treatment option then please call our Customer Care team on 1300 703 999 for assistance.
A prescription must be provided by a medical professional, whether a GP, nurse prescriber or a specialist.
All medical practitioners and nurse prescribers are eligible to prescribe medicinal cannabis products.
Your prescriber should have appropriate qualifications and/or expertise to treat the condition for which the proposed product would be used. If your prescriber is not a specialist in the condition and is submitting an application, then depending on the circumstances, the TGA may ask for a report from the appropriate treating specialist on the use and suitability of the medicinal cannabis product for you and your particular condition.
The two major types of products available are oils, which are ingested, and flowers which are inhaled through vaporising. Oil based products are the preferred and most common method of administration in Australia. As advised by the TGA, “Given the slower onset and longer duration, it is expected that taking medicinal cannabis products orally would be more useful for medical conditions or symptoms where control over longer periods of time is sought— similar to the use of slow release medications”.
Cannabis oil is made by extracting concentrated resin from the cannabis flower, and diluting the resin with a pharmaceutical grade oil. The finished oil product has a defined concentration measured in mg of THC and mg of CBD per mL of oil.
Cannabis flower is growing in popularity amongst experienced prescribers and is typically used for acute conditions like breakthrough pain. Flower is often prescribed in combination with a prescribed cannabis oil.
Private rebates are at the discretion of the individual health fund. It is recommended that you contact your fund or health insurer to discuss your cover and options.
HIF is the industry leader regarding cover and rebates for medicinal cannabis. HIF will pay a benefit towards medicinal cannabis products if your Extras cover includes Pharmacy. The benefits are payable from 9th September 2020. Find more here Medicinal Cannabis And Treatment Access (hif.com.au)
Medicare may cover your consultation with your GP or specialist, however this will depend on the fee policy of your medical practitioner and the type of appointment (telehealth and new patients may not be eligible for a rebate).
All cases are different and what works for one patient and indication may not be the case with you. Consultation with your GP, doctor or medical specialist is essential before undertaking any medicinal cannabis treatments.