#3. Medical cannabis comes in several forms.
Dr. Bearman suggests you ask your physician to recommend the best ratio of THC to CBD to look for in a marijuana strain, as well as to offer a suggested dosage and route of administration. Medical cannabis can be taken in a variety of forms, including being smoked, vaporized, sublingually (under the tongue), ingested, and used topically. When you visit a dispensary with your doctor’s recommendation, if the staff there is experienced and well-informed, they can also help guide you to identify the best option for the type of results you are seeking. Some patients prefer to grow their own cannabis. You can also talk to your doctor about going this route, too.
Some people are not good candidates for this form of treatment. Your practitioner should be able to tell you if this is true for you. As with any medication, pregnant women should consult a doctor before use and those with schizophrenia should use cannabis only under the supervision of a psychiatrist.
A growing number of states (currently 31 plus the District of Columbia) have approved cannabis use for medicinal purposes to treat a host of serious and chronic medical needs from nerve pain to nausea and anxiety. (Note: the conditions which qualify for its use vary from state to state.) According to proponents, medical cannabis can relieve pain, reduce inflammation, lessen nausea/improve appetite, control epileptic seizures and more. Also of note, in a Fall 2018 PPM online patient poll, about half of respondents said they had tried medical marijuana to help alleviate their pain or pain-related symptoms.
#2. Medical cannabis can be used to treat a variety of conditions.
“Some of the more frequent reasons for cannabinoid medicine specialists [or other physicians] to recommend cannabis is to treat pain and to treat anxiety,” Dr. Bearman says. “Other common conditions that cannabis can address include [but aren’t limited to] migraines, epilepsy, ADD/ADHD, PTSD, depression, Crohn’s disease, nausea, appetite stimulant, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and autism.” (Keep in mind that the conditions cannabis is approved to treat will depend on the state in which you live.) Your doctor may be able to discuss your condition and explain how medical cannabis can be used to address your symptoms.
10 Key Considerations
#5. You don’t need a prescription for medical cannabis but you do need a physician’s recommendation.
If you are an appropriate candidate for medical cannabis treatment, your physician can provide a medical cannabis recommendation that can be used in your state. Since medical cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, doctors don’t formally prescribe it; they recommend usage. A physician’s recommendation is needed to purchase the substance at a medical marijuana dispensary.
Smoking in general is harmful, smoking of cannabis products is not supported.
Medicinal cannabis products are classified as either Schedule 3, Schedule 4 or Schedule 8 controlled substances, most products are not listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). In circumstances where patients need access to therapeutic goods that are not included in the ARTG, a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval is required in order for the medicine to be prescribed.
When making an application to the TGA, you will need to reference clinical evidence that supports using the specific type of medicinal cannabis product proposed (e.g. THC, CBD, or THC and CBD in combination) for your patient’s medical condition or symptoms.
The prescriber must:
Products currently used in Australia:
Generally, medicines imported into, supplied in, and exported from Australia must be entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), which is administered by the TGA. However, there are mechanisms available for access to medicines that are not registered on the ARTG.
Doctors seeking approval to prescribe medicinal cannabis products that are not registered on the ARTG to a Queensland patient will do so via the TGA’s Online System.
NSW Cannabis Medicines Advisory Service – (for NSW health practitioners only). However, the Service is also available if:
Guidance and regulations
More research is being done on the uses of medicinal cannabis. The scientific evidence base is limited but suggests that medicinal cannabis may be suitable for:
In Queensland, the Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021 describes the requirements for prescribing and dispensing S4 and S8 medicines.