Queensland updates medicinal cannabis laws

Morgan Liotta

4/04/2019 2:01:55 PM

The State Government has passed new legislation designed to streamline access for ‘seriously ill’ patients.

Medicinal cannabis oil
Changes to Queensland laws will allow medicinal cannabis to sit under the same class as Schedule 8 or Schedule 4 medicines. (Image: Alex Murray)

The Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016 has been revoked to introduce new legislation that makes it easier for patients and doctors to access medicinal cannabis for ‘seriously ill Queenslanders’.
The changes will allocate medicinal cannabis under the same class as other drugs of addiction (Schedule 8 medicines) or prescription drugs (Schedule 4).
State Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said the new legislation will help to simplify the prescription process, a move for which the RACGP has previously called.
‘Our Government is committed to improving pathways for Queensland patients to access medicinal cannabis, and this new legislation joins some of the most progressive laws in the country,’ Minister Miles said.
‘This law change will significantly streamline the prescription process by removing state-level approval and will ensure patients have access to the treatment they need sooner.’
The RACGP’s current position on medicinal cannabis advises that ‘further research is warranted and desirable to clarify the uncertainties of the relative efficacy and safety of medical cannabis products’, while The regulatory framework for medicinal use of cannabis products outlines the RACGP’s belief that a national framework should be developed and include consistency of prescribing laws across jurisdictions.
‘The RACGP welcomes anything to make it easier for patients to access therapy – anything that makes it easier is a good thing,’ RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said to newsGP regarding the new legislation in Queensland.
‘Currently, it is relatively complicated to get a prescription and this is the beginning of understanding the role of medicinal cannabis, as there is no doubt there are groups of patients who could potentially benefit from it.’
Dr Nespolon said that although medicinal cannabis can be a useful agent with many potential uses, it is usually the last, rather than first, treatment option.
‘One barrier is the inability to drive, and only time and further research will tell,’ he said.
‘Before GPs prescribe [medicinal cannabis], they need to understand the process which is available through state and territory websites and go through TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] requirements.’
Minister Miles highlighted that the changes to Queensland laws act as a stepping stone for a nationally consistent approach to prescribing medicinal cannabis.
‘Now that the treatment has progressed [in Queensland], it makes sense for a nationally consistent approach and for the TGA to take carriage of the prescription process,’ he said.
Minister Miles also confirmed there are several Queensland-based companies working towards having medicinal cannabis products produced locally, which he said will ‘help improve access for people and reduce costs for these increasingly important medicines’.
It will remain illegal for the Queensland public to grow cannabis for medical purposes, and non-specialist medical practitioners will still require state-based approval for Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis.

medicinal cannabis prescribing Queensland

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