Information for patients
Accessing medical cannabis in Australia
How to access medical cannabis?
Medical cannabis is legal, however, almost all medicinal cannabis products in Australia are currently classified as 'unapproved' products and are not available as registered prescription medicines. This means the pathways to gain access are different from usual prescription medications.
Because of this, a doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis but they need approval first to do so. As part of the approval process they must be able to justify:
- why they are recommending the use of an unapproved medicine and
- how they plan to monitor their patient.
Simple steps to access
Little Green Pharma receives many inquiries from patients about how to access medicinal cannabis in Australia.
We've put together a guide that explains:
- the simple steps for patients to follow if they'd like to discuss this treatment option with their practitioner
- eligibility criteria and considerations for doctors
- supporting resources
Medical cannabis in Australia
Medical cannabis (also called medicinal cannabis or medical marijuana) is the cannabis plant and its component cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD) can be used for therapeutic purposes to alleviate symptoms.
It should be noted that referring to medical cannabis as though it were one type of medicine is potentially confusing as medicinal cannabis is available in various delivery forms as well as a range of strengths and varieties.
The last twenty years have seen a gradual, world-wide re-adoption of medical cannabis. In November 2016, Australia legalised medical cannabis and the current position of the federal regulatory body, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), is that cannabinoid therapy should only be considered after established treatments have been unsuccessful or have had unwanted side effects.
What is medical cannabis being prescribed for?
As of 31 December 2019, over 130 conditions had been accepted for medicinal cannabis use in Australia, with over 60% of SAS B approvals having been granted by the TGA for the treatment of chronic pain of an unspecified origin.
To date, over 46,000 SAS B approvals have been granted (31 May 2020).
For more information and to read about the other common indications being accepted for medicinal cannabis use please download the Senate Report.