Information for
Patients

DISCLAIMER: This page is for educational and information purposes only. Aruma Labs recommends that any individual with a medical condition seek advice from their primary care physician before considering or making any alteration to their health regimen.

Australian patients can access legal medicinal cannabis products via their treating doctor or specialist. If your medical practitioner believes medicinal cannabis will help treat your condition, they may prescribe appropriate medicinal cannabis products through special access pathways available for unregistered medicines including:

o The Special Access Scheme (SAS)
o The Authorised Prescriber Scheme
o Approved Clinical Trials

Eligibility

For patients, the first step is to discuss medicinal cannabis with your doctor. If they agree medicinal cannabis is appropriate, they will need to decide which medicinal cannabis product to prescribe to you, and get any necessary government approvals. For information about talking with your doctor about medicinal cannabis, see the following link: Talking With Your Doctor

Generally speaking, your doctor will assess the following factors to determine your eligibility for medicinal cannabis:

  1. Is there sufficient evidence (in the form of clinical studies or research) to justify the use of medicinal cannabis for your medical condition/illness?
  1. Have you taken or tried other  medications to treat your medical condition/illness which have been ineffective or produced significant side effects?
  1. Are there any contraindications or lifestyle factors which would make medicinal cannabis unsuitable for treating your medical condition/illness?

Once your doctor has received the required approvals, they will issue a prescription to you. You can then take this prescription to any pharmacy to have your medicinal cannabis product dispensed.

Accessing Medicinal Cannabis

Australian patients can access legal medicinal cannabis products via their treating doctor or specialist, if they believe medicinal cannabis will help treat your condition. medical practitioners may prescribe appropriate medicinal cannabis products through through one of the following three pathways:

Special Access Scheme (SAS)

Doctors may apply for medicinal cannabis for their patient via the TGA’s online portal. If the patient is eligible, applications are generally approved within 48 hours.

Authorised Prescriber

An Authorised Prescriber (AP) is a doctor who has applied to the TGA for authorisation to prescribe a specific product for a specific condition or class of conditions. Once a doctor is an Authorised Prescriber, they may prescribe without the need to apply to the TGA for each individual patient.

Clinical Trials

There are many clinical trials occurring across Australia investigating the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis for specific medical conditions. To learn more about accessing medicinal cannabis through a clinical trial, contact us.

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Talking with your doctor

If you’re wondering whether medicinal cannabis might benefit your condition, your first step should be to have a conversation with your current treating medical practitioner. A primary care physician with an understanding of your medical history or a specialist who has been treating your specific condition will usually be the best medical professional to speak with you regarding receiving a prescription for medicinal cannabis. Medical professionals not yet knowledgeable about the medical use of cannabis may hesitate to prescribe it, which is why it is vital for patients to open up the discussion by sharing clinical research and relevant documentation with their doctors.

Presenting relevant clinical studies which provide evidence that medicinal cannabis may treat your medical condition or unwanted symptoms, will enable you to have a well-informed discussion with your doctor about medicinal cannabis as a treatment option. It is also important to note that you understand that cannabis is unlikely to replace your current medical regimen, but can potentially be integrated as part of a larger treatment plan.

There are many excellent peer-reviewed studies and guidance documents available online, including those produced by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence (ACRE).

It is important to always be open with your physician and let them know if you have used cannabis to treat the symptoms in the past. Your past experience – positive or negative, of using cannabis to treat unwanted symptoms can provide further information to help your doctor understand whether medicinal cannabis is a suitable treatment for you. Be prepared to have a conversation which relays to the physician that you have pre-existing knowledge about medical cannabis and its common side effects.

What if my Doctor doesn’t think medicinal cannabis is right treatment for me?

Medicinal cannabis is a relatively new treatment and some medical professionals may not yet feel sufficiently informed to prescribe it. If you feel strongly that medicinal cannabis could benefit your medical condition, you may wish to seek a second opinion from another doctor.

Seeking a second opinion for important healthcare decisions from another healthcare professional can give you reassurance about a decision or give you the opportunity to opt for a different choice about a diagnosis or treatment.

Medical Assessment/Consultation Costs

The table below sets out typical costs for medical consultations and other services for medicinal cannabis:

Service Cost Medicare Rebate Out-of-Pocket Cost
First Consultation (~ 1 hr) $150 – 400 $71 $79 – $379
Prescription Renewal or Follow-up
Consultations (~15-30 min)
$40 – $80 $37 $3 – $43
TGA Approval Renewal (~ 1 hr) $150  $71  $79

Note: The price of consultations and other services will vary between different doctors and clinics.

Product Costs

The costs of medicinal cannabis will vary considerably dependent on the dosage required and the product prescribed. No cannabis products currently have a subsidy on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, so patients will generally need to cover the costs of filling the prescription out of pocket. On average, medicinal cannabis patients can expect to spend around $5-$15 per day, although costs can be substantially higher for patients with conditions that require very high doses.

Private Health Cover

Most Australian private health funds cover medical cannabis in some form, provided patients have cover with the appropriate allowances for prescription medicines.

Generally speaking, private health funds will require the following information to process a reimbursement:

  • Copy of your TGA approval
  • A letter from your doctor setting out that the prescription is required for your treatment
  • A receipt from the pharmacy that shows the medication was not covered by the PBS

Note: Most private health insurers will only reimburse products that have been prescribed via the Special Access Scheme or Authorised Prescriber pathways. Compounded medicinal cannabis products are generally not eligible for reimbursement. Patients should confirm medicinal cannabis is covered by their health fund prior to submitting a prescription to the pharmacy for dispensing.

Frequently asked
Questions

Frequently asked Questions

The words cannabis and marijuana are used interchangeably. Marijuana is often, although not always used in an illicit context. Cannabis, named after the plant genus, is the internationally recognised term so experts prefer to use cannabis when referring to the plant. To read more about medicinal cannabis, see the following link:

Administration

Medicinal cannabis is legal in many countries, including Australia, when produced under strict regulatory guidelines and prescribed and administered by an approved registered medical practitioner.

Patients can be prescribed medicinal cannabis by a registered medical practitioner with the appropriate expertise and qualifications to prescribe cannabis therapeutic goods for the patient’s medical condition. For more information, see the following link:

Accessing Medicinal Cannabis

The best place to start is be speaking with your GP or specialist. See How to Talk to Your Doctor or Find a Doctor for more information.

The costs of medicinal cannabis will vary considerably dependent on the dosage required and the product prescribed. No cannabis products currently have a subsidy on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, so patients will generally need to cover the costs of filling the prescription out of pocket. On average, medicinal cannabis patients can expect to spend around $5-$15 per day, although costs can be substantially higher for patients with conditions such as epilepsy that require very high doses of CBD.

To learn more about the costs of medicinal cannabis, see the following link:

Costs

Medicinal cannabis is be administered via a variety of pathways, including but not limited to vaporisation, sublingual and topical absorption. For more information, see the following link:

Administration

Many cannabis medicines have little to no delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary cannabinoid responsible for cannabis’ pshyoactive effects. These products are often high in cannabidiol (CBD) and very low in delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), significantly reducing or eliminating psychoactivity.

The Endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an endogenous (internal) homeostatic regulating system found in all vertebrates. The ECS is a complex system responsible for multiple physiological processes, which includes modulation of pain, seizure threshold, appetite, digestion, cognition and mood. Scientists believe that the main role of the ECS is to help the body maintain homeostasis or balance. To learn more about the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis works as a medicine, see the following link:

Endocannabinoid system

The cannabis plant produces over 400 chemical compounds, more than 65 of which are unique to the cannabis plant (called cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids). Phytocannabinoids are compounds which hold medicinal value and the most well-known are THC and CBD. To learn more about the difference between THC and CBD, see the following link:

THC and CBD

In some individuals, medicinal cannabis may cause undesirable side effects, which may increase with higher doses. Patients should speak with their medical professional about their treatment and any take note of any side effects.

DISCLAIMER: This page is for educational and information purposes only. Aruma recommends that any individual with a medical condition seek advice from their primary care physician before considering or making any alteration to their health regimen.

Find a Doctor

If you would like us to help you find a doctor experienced with prescribing medicinal cannabis, please contact us using the form below and we will connect you to a qualified medical practitioner.