Forms of Medical Cannabis Legal Down Under

medical cannabis
Cara Wietstock
Written by Cara Wietstock

Australia lifts ban on pharmaceutical forms of medical cannabis for export.

In late December the Australian Government Department of Health announced that soon Australians would have access to medical cannabis products. The Commonwealth Department of Health worked in conjunction with state and territory governments to decide what guidance documents will be necessary to educate those who will be prescribing medical cannabis in the country.

Teams at the Universities of New South Wales, Sydney, and Queensland provided guidance for these educational documents under the umbrella of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Researchers reviewed clinical evidence on the subject that has been published since 1980.

Other organizations were also involved in the making of these guidance documents. 18 patient and consumer representative groups, All state and territory health departments, 15 health care professional organizations, Clinical staff from 29 hospitals and health care systems, 14 outpatient or primary health networks helped put together the materials.

The government is pursuing cannabis medicines for conditions like:

  • chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • epilepsy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • chronic non-cancer pain
  • palliative care

This push is part of the country’s plan to be a leader in cannabis exportation. But however big the country grows in export, Australia’s Health Minister Greg does want Australian patients to know that they come first, “One of the conditions of any license for export is that medicinal cannabis be made available to Australian patients first. The sector is fully supportive of that. Australian patients come first. There are now no real government barriers at all to accessing medicinal cannabis.”

These new regulations and guidance documents follow a measure passed by Australian Parliament in February 2016 which allowed cannabis to be grown legally for medical and scientific purposes for the first time in the country. Almost one year later the government has lifted the ban on exports, hoping to boost their domestic industry in the coming years.



About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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  • The Australian Government has legalised pharmaceutical supposed ‘cannabis’ products from a very few of their cronies in the pHARMa industry (whom donate generously to major Australian political parties and even the PM has shares in pHARMa). The system they have put in place is so tied up with red-tape and bureaucracy most GP’s have given up trying to get any of the imports. Approximately 200 citizens (many are in paediatric ‘trials’ of unknown synthetic and plant extract frankenpHARMa concoctions) have been allowed exorbitantly priced, mostly synthetic so-called ‘medicinal cannabis products’ that for the most part couldn’t be further from actual whole plant Cannabis (with the entourage effect intact) if they tried! It is a complete FARCE, do not continue to say Australia has legal Cannabis as it does NOT! The Australian Government continues to persecute and prosecute citizens who use Cannabis for medicinal purposes, and currently, ‘Dr Pot’ as he is known, sits in prison still (since December 2017) awaiting a bail hearing later this month. His crime? Saving lives, compassionately by using whole-plant Cannabis extracts as medicine, particularly on children with various forms of otherwise deemed ‘untreatable’ paediatric epilepsy. So ‘medical Cannabis’ as you put it is NOT accessible for any but the wealthy few whom believe the lies of the pHARMa industry (yet another study by renowned Professor Peter C Gøtzsche, Copenhagen, has shown they are LIARS and put patients well before profit). Suffering Australians who desperately need Cannabis as a medicine have been sold out and cannot access anything unless it is black market, and that is fraught with cons too. Police are supposedly able to use discretion to NOT arrest Cannabis patients, but for the most part they do NOT and many are arrested for the crime of treating whatever it is that ails them! The Australian Government DO have blood on their hands, as one Australian Senator said late last year.

    • Oh wow, it seems that there is a lot more to the story than is implied. Thank you for enlightening us, we will report on these facts in the near future. And also consider a slight title change.

    • Very true, I tried extensively to find a doctor in Australia that would treat my wife with CBD oil for pain, she had chronic fibromyalgia to the extent I’m now her carer. Tried some home extracted to see if it helped and pain levels dropped from 6-9/10 down to 1/10! …..
      Found all the literature for our GP and pursued it vigorously, ultimately it’s not a recognised treatment so if GP prescribes CBD oil he is on his own, his insurance and license are at stake if issues arise.
      I can’t find a GP who is prescribing in Victoria due to privacy issues so to find one is like a witch hunt?
      We don’t want to pursue remedies outside of the law so are stuck with my wife taking the maximum amount of opiates as prescribed, this however is not very effective and the long term health issues concern me greatly.
      Long term I plan to be involved in growing/extracting in OZ as this is work I can do from home and be able to care for my wife, if I can find a GP or network of health professionals that want to do this here I suppose I’ll be looking to export anything I produce?

      • Thank you Mark for sharing. This is a power first-hand testimonial for the efficacy of CBD treatments for pain. Stories abound of similar witch hunts in the US to find a doctor who knows about this type of alternative treatment.

    • agree with anne marie above.. only ‘cannabis products’ approved are pharmaceutical versions of some elements of cannabis, or synthetics..
      application form requires reasons why currently available pharmaceutical forms of cannabis cannot be used.. having cured temporal lobe grand mal epilepsy [head injury road smash] using natural cannabis, after neurologist prognosis; “institutionalised by 55” – on epilepsy meds dilantin and tegretol – ie, illegal homegrown and other natural cannabis, now 70,
      i checked out forms and regulations etc, doctors, clinics etc, for prescription of cannabis as an ongoing therapeutic, but gave in after realising that only patients with epilepsy unable to used existing meds
      including synthetic cannabis,, stand a chance of approval thru a specialist..
      world health organisation is currently in the process of reviewing cannabis scheduling recomendations, having already recommended that cbd’s but not thc’s should not be,, scheduled.. given original recommendations for scheduling are older than me, ie, 80 yrs ago,,
      long before pivotal underlying understandings of our endo-cannabinoid system, its functions and wide ranging therapeutic effects and actions,
      which include, for eg, cancer cell apoptosis [cell death] ! cure of epilepsy
      including infantile epilepsy resistant to all pharmaceuticals, it is only
      a matter of time before who ecdd recommends de or re-scheduling
      of natural cannabis.. check out qualifying conditions in usa states
      medical cannabis laws, which are increasing, with time and results..
      cannabis has been used by mankind long before recorded history..
      has been included in unrelated societies medical texts for specific and
      also the same conditions.. depending on your belief system etc,
      cannabis is either/or ‘co-evolution between plant and man’ or
      ‘a gift from god to mankind’..
      and yet,, due to ignorance and deliberate political interference [eg, usa]
      this natural therapeutic plant has been stigmatized and included in drugs scheduling as if a ‘highly addictive narcotic drug of addiction and supertoxin’ [s8 australia, s1 usa] along with heroin, strychnine etc..
      those fighting ongoing decriminalisation [usa] include big tobacco, alcohol and pharma.. all [demonstrated to] lose profits wherever
      cannabis has been made legal as a medicine [31 states of usa]..
      together with known and inevitable effects of blackmarket corruption
      including influences on politicians and other decisionmakers, these known influences are and have held back rational scheduling and
      law reforms worldwide.. today canada has legalised cannabis..
      along with, with many other societies and states beginning
      their process’ of cannabis law reforms..
      australia and our politicians are simply not up to the task..
      black market corruption and its mega-dollar cash flows
      together with vested interests of big tobacco/alcohol/pharma
      – all massive political donors – continue to promote the illusion,
      that cannabis is legal for people with medical conditions
      for which cannabis is a or the known cure..
      best bet, if possible, grow your own..
      pesticide and herbicide free natural cannabis..
      for epileptics of parents/carers, rest assured friends
      that natural cannabis does in fact retard, reduce
      and even cure,, epilepsy..
      weigh up your priorities in this life
      then do what you know is right and good..