Queenslanders trying to access medical cannabis are in for an end-of-week treat today, as it has just become easier for doctors to prescribe the drug to patients.
Previously, all Australian patients seeking medical marijuana had to beg specialist doctors to go through the bureaucratic process of applying to Queensland Health. Then, another application is required for access to the Special Access Scheme (SAS). SAS applications are (at their own, red-tape riddled pace) accessed by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Living in Queensland? It’s your lucky day because that’s no longer the case for you.
Instead, an amendment has been made in parliament allowing TGA applications to bypass the hands of Queensland Health. Now, doctors will be able to prescribe schedule 8 and schedule 4 cannabis medications with only TGA approval. This will speed up the process dramatically, as Queenslanders will only have to submit one application.
According to Health Victoria, Schedule 4 cannabis drugs must contain at least 98% pure CBD – cannabis’s non-psychoactive component. All drugs with a THC component above 2% are considered schedule 8 drugs. (For more about THC and CBD, click here.)
|Cannabis Components||Schedule 4||Schedule 8|
|Less than 2% THC||✔️||❌|
|More than 98% pure CBD||✔️||❌|
|More than 2% THC||❌||✔️|
As schedule 8 drugs are potentially psychoactive, Queensland Health will still access all SAS applications from patients that are already drug dependent. Although some cases will still be assessed by Queensland Health, the SAS application process will be cheaper for Queensland, less frustrating for doctors and will keep patients on the straight and narrow.
As Queensland’s Pharmaceutical Society of Australia President Shane MacDonald put it:
Improving access to medical cannabis is an important step to ensure patients continue to access cannabis products legally.
We couldn’t agree more Shane. Well done.