Medicinal Cannabis Treatment
Medicinal cannabis is a medicine that comes from the cannabis (marijuana) plant. The cannabis plant contains many chemicals called cannabinoids the main ones being -
Medicinal cannabis products contain varying combinations of THC and CBD. There are more than 300 different medicinal cannabis products available in Australia. Most are drops or oils that are swallowed but also dried flower products that are vaporised or smoked.
Medical cannabis products can be very effective for some health including chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety
Most are combinations of THC and CBD
They are generally very safe but can cause side effects
They are expensive (typical $50 - $100 /week) and you can’t drive with THC
Like all medicines you need to allow a few weeks to get the right product and dose
Medicinal cannabis can also treat insomnia, anxiety, cancer symptoms (such as nausea) multiple sclerosis (MS) and epilepsy.
You can only get medicinal cannabis products from your doctor after a careful assessment. Currently these products can only be used after you have tried standard treatment for your health condition. If standard treatment is not effective or has excessive side effects, then you can consider treatment with a cannabis product.
It is important to review your current health condition, other health problems as well as all the medications that you take (in case of drug interactions). You shouldn’t use these products if you have certain health problems such as schizophrenia or unstable heart disease or if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Your doctor will need to spend some time with you to work out the most suitable medicinal product. This will most likely be a combination of THC and CBD in an oral form like drops or sprays.
Your doctor then needs to apply to the appropriate authorities in order to get permission to prescribe. Once approved, your doctor can write you a prescription. You can take this prescription to your pharmacy to have your medicinal cannabis product dispensed.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) doesn't cover medicinal cannabis. The cost of medicinal cannabis varies depending on the product and dose used from about $25 to $400 per week.
Side effects also vary greatly depending on dose and preparation. These are mostly related to THC and include dry mouth, drowsiness, confusion, poor concentration, unsteadiness and occasionally agitation and hallucinations.
You can’t drive or operate heavy machinery while using medical THC. You may test positive for THC on roadside drug testing.
Note that it can take quite a few weeks to get to the right dose. You have to ‘start low and go slow’ with dose adjustments with regular discussions with your doctor. Sometimes you have to change products or stop altogether if medical cannabis isn’t helpful.