Medicinal cannabis and CBD oil

Only 2.7% of medical cannabis users access cannabis legally

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Just because medical cannabis is legal doesn’t mean Australian’s are accessing it. A new study has found that only a small percentage of Australians using cannabis for medical reasons are accessing it legally.

The study, ‘Cannabis as Medicine Survey’ (CAMS), measured how Australians are using cannabis since following its legislation in 2016. Carried out between September 2018 and March 2019, the study was led by the University of Sydney, the Discipline of Addiction Medicine Foundation, and the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics.

In total, the survey was conducted on 1,388 Australians. Of this group, researchers found that just 2.7% of participants were accessing cannabis legally. The remainder sourced it from dealers, friends, and family or by growing it themselves.

To access medical cannabis legally in Australia, you and your doctor must apply for the Special Access Scheme (SAS). SAS applications are then accessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), who’ll then allow your doctor to write a prescription.

Despite this process being available Australia-wide, CAMS found that most participants avoided obtaining cannabis legally for three reasons:

  • The high price of cannabis medications
  • Difficulties in finding a doctor willing to apply for SAS, and
  • The belief that their doctor would not agree to investigate medical cannabis as a form of treatment

When it comes to ingesting cannabis, only 34.2% of CAMS participants ingested cannabis through smoking a joint or pipe, with the remainder ingesting cannabis through a liquid, edible, bong, vape or other methods.

Interestingly, CAMS also investigated the conditions Australians treat with cannabis. Most participants were treating mental health conditions like depression, insomnia, and pain. You can see the full breakdown below.

What Aussies are treating with medicinal cannabis
What Aussies are treating with medicinal cannabis

When discussing the findings of the study, co-author Professor Iain McGregor described the results by saying:

There are clearly many Australians with serious medical conditions who are yet to gain official access to medicinal cannabis products.

Professor McGregor also stressed that CAMS found that a great deal of difference between the cannabis their participants used. While there is a great range of medical cannabis products available in Australia, illegal cannabis is non-standardized with no quality control.

Professor McGregor also called for greater research into the effects of CBD-oil on mental health problems, pain, and insomnia – as most participants were treating those conditions with cannabis.


  1. I use it illegally because 1. No GP I can find will prescribe it. 2. the criteria rule me out because I have a history of mental health despite no evidence of well prepared oils causing any issues, and 3. Even if I got over those hurdles.. I could not afford $600 a prescription; that’s insane. Further, I prefer an indica blend because it is better with pain and helps me sleep. Medical cannabis has no indication what strain, or even how it is prepared. Id like to know that it was whole extract and not overly decarbed destroying the beneficial terpines that actually make it work. The pharma industry tried to make synthetic THC only for it to kill people.. 7 I believe. So we know it is not just the one chemical and we know it cannot be synthesised. Many drugs are like this. The prohibition is not about people, it is about profit. It creates money for big pharma, private prisons just to name a few. If prohibition was ended the goverment would gain by reduced prison populations, reduced criminal convictions meaning more people free to re-enter the work force without a criminal conviction hanging over them, and far far fewer hospital visits esp. for opoid related issues. Cannabis has been proven to prevent cancer, epilepsy, pain, and a host of other diseases that would otherwise cost the commonwealth of Australia – millions if not billions. We know this is true. We are tired of Rockafella style money controlling governments to bully people into a situation they do not want. Im tired of it and without cannabis I would probably be dead right now as would my father, and quite a few people I know. I am smart enough not to get caught but the longer I use it, the higher my risk. That is simply not fair. Im an older adult and ironically my education includes a bachelor of nursing and a post graduate diploma in psychiatric nursing with over 17 years of nursing experience not to mention being an ex NSW police officer. I have never committed a real crime and do not even have any missing points on my drivers licence. A model citizen.. except for the fact Im still alive because I decided to try cannabis oil and it worked. Is sending me to prison really a good solution ?

  2. I obtain CBD oil legally through Cannvalate, for stage 4 breast cancer to help with pain and nausea. It works well but am not sure I can afford to keep buying it legally, it is just too expensive and a lot of mucking around and expense to get a repeat.

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