Accessing Medicinal Cannabis

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Cannabis has been in the news a lot recently, following the ACT Government legalising the possession, consumption and growing of small amounts from early next year.

Despite changes to the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act in October 2016 — which allow doctors to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis — it is thought that many Australians who use cannabis for medicinal purposes still buy cannabis illegally.1 This may be due to the fact that there is still a lot of red tape in the way of Australians getting access to the drug.

A recent systematic review of Canadian and Australian healthcare professionals knowledge and beliefs, identified a self-perceived lack of knowledge on all aspects relating to medicinal cannabis, including how to access it, was one of the main barriers to prescribing.2 In Australia, the current process for prescribing medicinal cannabis is seen as highly bureaucratic, with approval needed from the federal government and in some cases, the state and territory health departments. However, requirements differ between states and territories, and these can change at any time. Recent changes in NSW has led to a more streamlined prescribing process for most patients, which is anticipated to improve waiting times. However, there is still much confusion around the differences in state-based prescribing pathways and therapeutic indications. More education and clear guidance around prescribing is needed for GPs on the use of medicinal cannabis.

simGP, have developed a series of simulated patient case studies to help GPs navigate the current evidence for the use of medicinal cannabis in different therapeutic indications, and outline the requirements for prescribing medicinal cannabis products in Australia.

These RACGP and ACRRM accredited courses are aligned with the RACGP’s updated position statement, that Medicinal Cannabis products should only be considered when all first-line, conventional, evidence-based treatment options have been exhausted.3

To learn more about prescribing medicinal cannabis, visit



  1. Lintzeris N, et al. Med J Aust. 2018; Aug 13 [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Gardiner KM, el al PLoS ONE 14(5): e0216556.
  3. RACGP. Uses of medicinal cannabis products 2019 update. Available at: Accessed November 2011



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