Talking with your Doctor
How to discuss treatment options with your Doctor
Medical cannabis is a relatively new treatment option in Australia. There is a limited but growing number of doctors currently prescribing medical cannabis. This doesn’t mean that a doctor is open to prescribing medical cannabis (or against it), simply that most practitioners lack experience and some may not be comfortable prescribing this type of medicine.
The application process imposes additional challenges that are not an issue for established treatments, creating an added barrier for doctors to prescribe.
Please note: Little Green Pharma is able to support doctors with the application process if they are open to prescribing medicinal cannabis. Please ask them to contact us directly on (08) 6280 0050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can assist.
Patients wanting to learn more, or who are considering medicinal cannabis treatment should first discuss this option with their usual GP or specialist medical practitioner and read the Simple Steps to Accessing Medicinal Cannabis guide.
As medical cannabis is a relatively new healthcare treatment option for Australian doctors, some practitioners may lack experience or not be comfortable prescribing medicinal cannabis. As most medical cannabis products are currently not TGA-approved, the regulatory framework imposes challenges that are not an issue for established treatments.
Before you meet with your practitioner there are some steps you can take to learn more about this new treatment choice and share this information with your doctor:
If you'd like more information or to talk to someone please call the LGP team on 1300 703 999.
1) Do some research and take it to your next appointment
There are clinical studies available online that patients are able to print and share with their medical practitioner. Peer-reviewed studies can help a practitioner understand more about medical cannabis as a treatment option for your condition and help support your doctor’s understanding of your decision for wanting to consider medical cannabis.
You can find research relating to various conditions by visiting GreenChoices.
2) Be honest and talk about your experience
When discussing your condition, it is important to discuss with your doctor how you feel and the effects of the medications you have tried. It’s important to be honest and advise your practitioner if you’ve already tried cannabis and what the effects were.
Please note: Street cannabis and medical cannabis are different, particularly in relation to quality control, potency, known cannabinoid concentration and the potential for harmful additives in street cannabis. Medical cannabis in Australia is highly regulated to ensure patient safety, consistency of product formulation and the absence of potentially dangerous contaminants such as pesticides and moulds. Furthermore, researchers have observed a trend of increasing THC concentration in street cannabis (with reduced CBD concentration) which has been linked to an increase in the risk of adverse events.
3) Have patience and work together
Doctors have legal obligations to comply with regulations in relation to medical cannabis and the prescribing guidelines, however education around these guidelines is only just starting in Australia. Showing patience towards your doctor if they still have questions or need more evidence to feel comfortable prescribing is important.
There is still much to learn about the benefits of medical cannabis and how to prescribe it with confidence. Both doctors and researchers are exploring the evidence of this treatment for various conditions and how it compares to standard medicines.
There is still much to learn about the potential benefits of medical cannabis, how to prescribe it accurately and the pathways to access this medication. Both doctors and patients are exploring the science behind this treatment for various conditions and how it compares to established medications. Showing patience towards doctors who still have questions or need more evidence to feel comfortable prescribing is important. Together, you are more likely to find the best medical outcome for you.
4) Share your point of view
When considering any new treatment, you should consider the possible impact on your overall life e.g. will any side effects interfere with a regular activity that is important to you e.g. operating heavy machinery? Driving? Employment testing? Can you afford this treatment?
The cost of medical cannabis in Australia is varied and depends on a number of considerations such as a patient’s condition and the product being prescribed. It is estimated that medical cannabis can approximately cost from $150 up to $3,650 per month (a range of $5 to $120 per day).
Your doctor needs to know about these practical matters so they can choose the right treatment for you and develop a treatment plan that works for your circumstances.
Please note: There is currently only one PBS subsidy available for medical cannabis (for Dravet Syndrome) so this cost will be worn entirely by patients.
When your practitioner recommends a treatment for you, this reflects a number of considerations. It’s best to share your thoughts with your doctor about their recommendations and discuss choices if you’re not satisfied. There are different ways to manage many health conditions, and it’s important to discuss the risks and benefits of each treatment; what side effects might occur, how long the treatment will continue, and how likely it is that the treatment will work for you.
What if my doctor is interested in prescribing medical cannabis but doesn’t know where to start?
We suggest the following steps:
1) Ask your doctor to contact Little Green Pharma directly (08) 6280 0050 or email email@example.com so we can provide them with the information they need to navigate the SAS B pathway.
2) Ask your medical practitioner to also sign up to the Little Green Pharma Medical Portal restricted access portal to access comprehensive resources for doctors.
When thinking about the pros and cons of any treatment, don’t forget to consider its impact on your overall life. For instance, will one of the side effects interfere with a regular activity that means a lot to you? Is one treatment choice expensive? Doctors need to know about these practical matters so they can work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.
What if my doctor isn’t interested in prescribing medical cannabis?
As many practitioners still lack experience and knowledge, or may not be comfortable treating patients with medicinal cannabis, your doctor may not be prepared to apply for, or to prescribe this medicine for you.
In this case, there are still options available for a patient if they still wish to explore medicinal cannabis as a treatment option.
Firstly, we recommend patients ask their doctor if they would consider medicinal cannabis if they could get assistance in the application process.
Doctor answer is YES?
Doctor answer is NO?
Your can ask your doctor to write you a referral to another doctor and request your medical records relating to the condition you'd like to treat with medicinal cannabis, including current and previous medications. There are a growing number of practitioners in Australia who are educated and open to prescribing medicinal cannabis as a second line treatment and if a patient is eligible.
For information on doctors and clinics that are informed about medicinal cannabis please contact our team at 1300 703 999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can assist find you a doctor near you who is open to prescribing medicinal cannabis.