Oh, so much excitement about medicinal cannabis in our fibromyalgia family!
BUT do you know what’s happening here (ie: Australia)?
It is legal to cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis in Australia (Hold On! Keep reading!), which means people can apply for a licence to grow their own cannabis crop from the Office of Drug Control.
Since early November, through the Therapeutic Goods Administration, medicinal cannabis no longer falls under Australia’s most stringent of schedules, reserved for dangerous drugs. Instead, there are provisions in place to use it on medical grounds, with certain approvals but only for very ill people.
However, it will still be illegal to use or grow marijuana for recreational purposes.
It is up to the states to decide whether the drug will be allowed and who will be able to use it, dispense it, who will be able to approve it, and what dosage and form of medicinal cannabis is appropriate. And this is where things get murky (da,da, da, dum…)! Each state is trying to form or introduce its own legislation, while also considering the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961.
The convention is set in place by the United Nations, and outlines how medicinal cannabis should be approached.
So, how does it work state by state?
- If you are in Queensland, from March 2017 a specialist should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis for certain patients who have illnesses including MS, epilepsy, cancer and HIV/AIDS. There are no age restrictions, but approval will only be provided by a doctor who needs to show evidence that medicinal cannabis could help the patient.
- In New South Wales, medicinal cannabis will be available for end of life illnesses, but only for adults.
- In Victoria, children with severe epilepsy will be able to access medicinal cannabis from early 2017.
- The ACT is currently working on legislation that will include education sources for doctors. The legislation is expected to come into effect next year .
- Tasmania is developing a Controlled Access Scheme, to allow patients to access unregistered medical cannabis. It is expected to come into effect next year.
- The WA Government has recently passed changes supporting the federal legislation. That means that doctors are able to prescribe medicinal cannabis under strict conditions.
Products will only be able to be dispensed by a pharmacist. However, there is still no legal product available in Australia.
There is little to no information available for what the situation in South Australia or the Northern Territory.
Patients who have been illegally using medicinal cannabis are applauding the changes, they fear it could be a decade before it is widely available to those who need it.
* With many restrictions