A GP guide to the role of medicinal cannabis

Although still in its infancy in Australia, the number of doctors prescribing - and the number of people trying - medicinal cannabis continues to rise

Need to know:

  • Medicinal cannabis is usually made from extraction or synthesis of the two best-understood active constituents (cannabinoids) in cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have different and potentially synergistic effects. THC is the intoxicating component of medicinal cannabis.
  • It remains illegal to drive in Australia with THC in the system even when it has been medically prescribed. CBD alone does not have an intoxicating effect and is unlikely to affect a patient’s ability to drive. This is currently being assessed in local clinical trials.
  • Medicinal cannabis is available to appropriate patients through the TGA Special Access Scheme or by TGA Authorised Prescribers as an unapproved drug.
  • There is limited, but growing, evidence for the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis. It is a medication of last resort. It is commonly prescribed for patients with MS, epilepsy, nausea and vomiting associated with