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Australia: Doctors set to legally prescribe pot to patients

Doctors across the state will be able to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis for their patients as of tomorrow.

Cannabis-based medicines have so far been available only to patients enrolled in clinical trials in NSW but Premier Mike Baird said new regulatory changes meant the drugs can now be considered for ­patients who have exhausted standard treatment options.

“People who are seriously ill should be able to access these medicines if they are the most appropriate next step in their treatment,” Mr Baird said.

Mike Baird
NSW Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward. Picture: Tim Hunter.

The Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Amendment Regulation 2016 to take effect tomorrow will allow doctors to apply to NSW Health to prescribe cannabis-based products that are not on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

“This change increases the options available for doctors as it means a broader range of cannabis-based medicines can be prescribed — while we continue our evidence-based research looking further into the role medicinal cannabis can play,” Mr Baird said.

The lack of legal cannabis-based medicine has forced many patients to break the law by sourcing cannabis oil and medicine on the black market.

Medical Research Minister Pru Goward said NSW was regulating cannabis-based medi­cines in the same way as any other emerging medicine.

“There is still a lot to learn about safety and efficacy for different patient conditions and groups, which is why we are investing $21 million to further world-leading … research.”

Associate Professor Saxon Smith, NSW spokesman for the Australian Medical Association, said doctors will need approval from both the ­Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and NSW Health before they can prescribe an unregistered cannabis-based product.

“It is an important step forward to look after patients in terminal situations or suffering side effects from chemotherapy, so it adds to our arsenal,” he said. “This isn’t wholesale access to any type of cannabis. It’s about medication obtained legally and it doesn’t mean homemade tinctures and oils.”

Lucy Haslam, whose late son Dan’s cancer battle led the push for legalising medicinal cannabis, said it was a step forward but the costs of prescription products could be prohibitive.

Article written by Jane Hansen and originally sourced here.

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