With the popularity of medical cannabis and CBD Oil increasing all over the globe, more and more patients are asking medical practitioners and health care professionals on how they can get medical marijuana in Sydney, New South Wales. Unlike common prescription drugs, CBD products (also known as Cannabidiol) in Sydney, and Australia as a whole, are not as readily available for the average patients and ordinary consumers. Get to know what the Special Access Scheme is all about and learn how to legally gain a license to access the medical marijuana in Sydney.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration
In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, also known as TGA, is officially tasked by the government to regulate access to all medical goods, including medical marijuana and CBD Oil. It is a division of the Australian Department of Health that was established back in 1989 through the signed Therapeutic Goods Act. The TGA is in charge of overall therapeutic goods’ importation, supply, manufacturing, export, and advertising.
However, the majority of products containing medical cannabis are not included in the official list of the Australian Registered Therapeutic Goods or ARTG, which means it cannot be prescribed by a doctor or a general practitioner nor could it be bought at a regular pharmacy just like any other conventional registered medicine.
Following Australian laws, obtaining access to medical marijuana means going through the unregistered medicines regulatory route. Doctors are in charge of lodging the application on the patient’s behalf and the application is to be submitted to the TGA or Therapeutic Goods Administration. At the same time, the doctor must also get separate permission on the patient’s behalf from the corresponding Health Department of the State or Territory in Australia where the patient lives in. Getting both approved licenses from the Health Department and the TGA would be the only way to legally obtain medical marijuana in the country, currently.
Hence, the chosen prescribing doctor must be licensed to do so at both the Federal (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and State or Territory (differs between States or Territories) levels. Once the doctor has obtained the approval of both government authorities on the matter, it is only then that medical marijuana can be dispensed from a licensed pharmacy. Depending on the type of medical cannabis product needed by the patient or prescribed by the doctor, the requirements may vary from state to state.
Applying for Medical Cannabis in Sydney
In Sydney, New South Wales, as acquiring medical marijuana and CBD Oil isn’t a common process for the majority of the general practitioners in the field, there are two different ways of how doctors can apply for prescribing unprescribed medication.
Special Access Scheme (SAS)
The doctor applying under SAS is intending to source a drug for a single patient only. The process involves providing clinical evidence to explain the patient’s medical condition. According to the patient’s case and medical condition, the physician shall declare the specific cannabis product and its appropriate dosage. The doctor is also tasked to identify the specific accredited supplier which can supply the said medical cannabis as chosen from the list of authorised sponsors of medical cannabis importation.
Authorised Prescriber (AP)
When the physician is prescribing for many patients, he or she can apply to be an authorised prescriber. An AP can prescribe any unregistered medicine to a whole class of patients. Same as in SAS, doctors need to provide strong clinical evidence for using and prescribing cannabis products to a group of patients. The application is then submitted to the TGA and its approval would be then submitted to an Ethics Committee. Additional steps may differ from state to state or from one territory to another.
In submitting applications for medical cannabis procurement in Australia, detailed information is to be presented to the TGA, which includes the medicine’s drug formulation, composition, suggested dosage of use, and any known side effects. The doctor must submit a justification as to why medical marijuana is the most suitable for the patient’s medical condition.
The Reality of Accessing CBD Oil in Sydney
In the current setting in Sydney, most of the doctors hesitate to prescribe medical cannabis and CBD Oil and they do not feel confident in going through both applications for the prescription. With the numerous required documentation and the added work of going to TGA and the Health Department of the State or Territory, doctors tend to shy away from applying for a SAS or AP. In turn, there are fewer patients in Sydney than expected who can benefit from medical marijuana’s benefits and advantages.
With a different process in sourcing and prescribing unlisted medication such as medical marijuana, Australian doctors are placed in a tough position as they seldom feel inadequately informed regarding marijuana and its beneficial uses in the medical field. Other doctors feel that they will spend most of their time fulfilling all the required documents needed for TGA to have a justified decision on why marijuana is the best option for their respective patient with the given medical condition. Lastly, other physicians are simply unable to closely monitor the patient’s condition and treatment progress after having started the administration of medical cannabis.
Hence, it is understandable for patients to have a hard time looking for a physician who would be willing to go through the intricate process of acquiring a license for medical CBD. With the fast-paced, busy lives of medical practitioners in Australia, many doctors are still unfamiliar with the processes involved in securing a permit as well as in sourcing medical marijuana to a group of patients legally.
Overall, getting access to medical marijuana allows more patients to take advantage of hemp plant’s natural benefits. Medical cannabis has been commercially distributed as part of epidiolex that is indicated for patients suffering from seizures and dronabinol for frequent episodes of nausea and vomiting for cancer treatment. Like conventional medicine, medical marijuana and CBD Oil can be directly sourced from reputable pharmaceutical companies, such as Tilray, who are widely present in the markets in the US, Canada, and Australia.
Do not hesitate to talk to your physician if you are considering trying out medical marijuana for your medical condition. Make sure to be fully informed and take time to explain to your physician about the benefits of medical cannabis compared to traditional treatment and medicine. As a patient, you are entitled to medical advice but you may also bring documentation in the form of scientific studies and published research to validate your points. Use these as evidence in explaining how medical cannabis might just be the answer to your medical condition.
Where can I buy CBD Oil?
The Australian government introduced legislation to decriminalise the use and sale of medical cannabis in 2016, however the accessibility of CBD Oil products still remains a challenge in Australia.
There are currently 2 methods to access medical cannabis in Australia:
- Government approved legal pathways
- Buying from online retailers
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