How to Get Medical Cannabis in Australia: A Step-by-Step Guide

STEP 1: Consultation with a doctor

Patients should see their routine treating doctor, General practitioner, or expert as a first step.

Please keep in mind that this must be an Australian-registered medical practitioner with the right qualifications and/or comprehension for the condition that requires treatment. For example, if you are suffering from chronic pain, your General practitioner or a professional with knowledge in treating this condition can submit an application in just about all states.

Your current treating physician must be well aware of your medical issues and have accessibility to your medical records (these records may have to be submitted if a submission is filed with the TGA).

STEP 2: Product evaluation

If your doctor thinks that cannabis therapy is the right treatment for you, he or she will need to know which product is right for you.

They are prone to think about the following:

  • Product availability as determined by the supplier.
  • the patient’s continued costs
  • if it is a ‘Schedule 4’ (Prescription Only) or a ‘Schedule 8’ (Controlled Drug) drug, as the approval procedure and product distribution varies between the two.

The doctor is responsible for product selection, and they will study and compare options to discover the one that best matches your condition and circumstances. TGA submissions must include evidence proving that the product fulfils the quality and safety standards outlined in Therapeutic Goods Order No. 93. (TGO93). This information is often provided to the TGA by the producer, which Medbox Pharma may validate with medical professionals.

STEP 3: Submit an application to the TGA and the State Health Department

Practitioners can seek for federal and state clearance through the SAS B pathway with the permission of a patient.

To apply for medicinal cannabis access, a medical practitioner must fulfil the TGA’s standards and:

  • have verified your health condition and related medical history
  • Provide paperwork indicating which drugs for your disease have been administered and are either ineffective or have side effects.
  • Provide a treatment plan as well as a monitoring strategy.

Who is eligible to apply?

This changes according to state/territory. In most states, a general practitioner (GP) can commence an application if they have competence in the subject for which the prescription is being recommended, such as pain. General practitioners in the ACT can apply, although a letter of endorsement from a specialist is now required. In most states, if a practitioner lacks the necessary experience or qualifications to treat the patient’s illness, a referral to a specialist is required (for instance paediatric epilepsy).

Please keep in mind that:

  • SAS B applications will question if the medical practitioner submitting the application is the patient’s primary care physician.
  • It is better if individuals are recommended medicinal cannabis by their primary care physician.

STEP 4: TGA Approval

Under present legislation, if you live in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, or Tasmania, a doctor can prescribe medical cannabis to a patient after gaining joint TGA and state authorisation — Proceed to Step 6.

In order to gain prescription authorisation for Schedule 8 drugs in the ACT, practitioners must file a second application to the state health department – Proceed to Step 5.

STEP 5: Separate State / Territory Approval

Depending on whatever schedule category the medical cannabis products are classed under, every Australian State and Territory has various restrictions for patients obtaining medicinal cannabis (Schedule 4 or 8).

Schedule 8: Upon TGA authorization, the practitioner will obtain an approval certificate, which must be submitted with another different application to the applicable State Health Department.

Schedule 4: No permissions from the State Health Department are needed.

STEP 6: Obtaining Patient Access

A patient will get their prescription and medical cannabis authorisation after receiving clearance not only from the TGA but also the State Health Department, which must be submitted at their preferred pharmacy. The pharmacy must send the required Health Department clearances to the wholesaler. The supplier then distributes the recommended substance to the pharmacy, which dispenses it to the patient. In-patients may be supplied by hospital pharmacies on a duplicate of a medication record request.

Please keep in mind that a pharmacist can only distribute medication to a patient after receiving an original prescription and a duplicate of the TGA and State Health clearances (if need be).