It’s Legal to Grow Cannabis in Australia!*

mj-fmgirlOh, 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.

single-convention

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

Weathering the Storms

Thinking about moving because the weather is changing again?

Thanks to the effects of barometric pressure changes on your body, the pain you feel in your body prior to a storm may have some validity. Yes, we all have an elderly relative who complains that her knee or fingers flare up when the weather changes; but according to research, published in the journal Pain, that relative may know what she is talking about.

Two thirds of the patients interviewed reported that they could actually feel the changes even before the weather changed. According to David Borenstein, rheumatologist and clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University Medical Centre, it is typical for joint pain to start even before the first raindrops fall, says.

There’s no full agreement among scientists that weather causes pain, or if a specific mechanism is at fault, Robert Newlin Jamison says, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School and a researcher who has studied weather’s effects on chronic pain patients. But there are plausible theories.

The leading theory points to changes in barometric air pressure. Although many people say that their pain worsens with damp, rainy weather, research has shown that it’s not the cold, wind, rain, or snow, Borenstein says. Barometric pressure often drops before bad weather sets in. This lower air pressure pushes less against the body, allowing tissues to expand; and those expanded tissues can put pressure on the joint. The change is microscopic but fibromyalgia sufferers (who may or may not have damaged central nervous systems – depending on the research) have nerves which can become more sensitised because of injury, inflammation, scarring, or adhesions.

‘For whatever reason,’ says Jamison, ‘the nerves are just hypersensitive, and they just keep firing, based on what you do – or not for any reason at all. But if there’s some expansion internally – in other words, the body can either expand or contract based on outside pressure changes – then that’s going to affect how pain is signalled.’

Nevertheless, the link between pain and weather changes remains hypothetical; research has come to mixed conclusions.

So, for those of us who know better and can’t afford to buy our own islands in the Bahamas or Queensland, what can we do?

  • Stay warm. Dressing in layers, keeping your home heated, and warming up the car before you get in can help ease pain related to cold weather. (Personally, I love lying under a heap of clothes that have just come out of the dryer!)
  • Keep moving. Before you go outside during cold weather, try to exercise your painful joints to loosen up stiffness.
  • Improve your mood. People in chronic pain often feel anxious, depressed, and irritable, Jamison says. But in many cases, when pain strikes, “The brain is able to override a lot of sensations.”
  • Realize that the pain is temporary. When weather-related pain strikes, it is short-lived (as opposed to the rest of the pain we feel!)

WARNING: you may become that relative who tells people when it is going to rain!