The Government of the Australian state of Queensland has released the nation’s first medicinal cannabis guidelines – but not everyone is happy with the result.
Three documents have been created to assist doctors, many of whom have little or no knowledge of working with cannabis medicines.
“These new Guidance documents provide health practitioners with information about what is allowed to be prescribed, the form it will come in and information about dosing and direction on the best sources of information that can be obtained in relation to medicinal cannabis prescribing,” said Queensland Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Cameron Dick.
The three documents are (all PDF):
- Clinical Guidance: For the use of Medicinal Cannabis Products – covering clinical issues including treatment options recommended for doctors to use in discussions with their patients.
- Medicinal Cannabis Access and Use in Queensland – clarifies the process for accessing medicinal cannabis.
- Standard for Security of Medicinal Cannabis Stock – requirements for storing and securing stocks of medicines.
While Queensland’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill will come into force from March 1, medicines will still need to be sourced internationally.
One of the contentious points in the guidelines is a recommendation against prescribing medicines containing the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to anyone under 25.
According to Jenny Hallam, the South Australian medical cannabis crusader recently raided by police, this could be a death sentence for some young patients.
“The THC has been the only thing keeping them alive, so these guidelines are absolutely ridiculous.”
An odd contraindication in the guidelines is if the patient uses nicotine regularly and also a recommendation against prescribing medicines to elderly patients.
As to the types of products available in Queensland, it lists certified cannabis buds or flower, oils, liquid capsules and oral mucosal spray. Smoking of medicinal cannabis products will not be approved in Queensland.
Using a vaporiser approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as a medical device will be permitted, or until such a device is approved (as there are none yet), devices approved in a similar jurisdiction.
The Australian Medical Association Queensland says as doctors will bear full responsibility for what they prescribe; the situation will put them “very much out on a limb” and make them reluctant to do so.