The last few years has seen some movement in thinking and research on whether medical cannabis and chronic pain management can work together. However the Australian Federal governments last update on the subject was in 2017
Medical Cannabis has been widely accepted by the medical professions in America however the subject is highly politicised and permitted usage is State based – see an article from the Facial Pain Association below
The FPA produced two extensive articles in their Fall/Winter 2018 and Spring/Summer 2019 which contain a huge amount of information, although based around American laws, the content and issues are very relevant.
The Australian Government advise was issued in 2017 – see below for a portion of the advise. The full article can be downloaded below
Medicinal cannabis: patient information
Over the past few years, a number of Australians have expressed interest in the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The Commonwealth and State and Territory governments have either used their current laws or passed specific laws to allow the prescribing and dispensing of medicinal cannabis products. The Commonwealth, and in some cases, State and Territory governments, have also passed laws allowing cannabis cultivation and manufacture for medicinal purposes.
Currently there is limited evidence about the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis for use in different medical conditions. There is also little known about the most suitable doses of individual cannabis products.
For a particular product to be registered on the ARTG, a sponsor (usually a company) would need to submit a dossier of evidence on the clinical efficacy, safety and manufacturing quality of a particular medicinal cannabis product to the Therapeutic Goods Administration. At this time, the Australian Government does not subsidise the cost of medicinal cannabis products through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The Australian Government Department of Health and the NSW, Victorian and Queensland state governments commissioned a team from the Universities of New South Wales, Sydney and Queensland under the co-ordination of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) to review the available clinical evidence for using medicinal cannabis. The team focused on the five areas for which the largest numbers of studies have been carried out – palliative care, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy in paediatric and adult patients.
The researchers conducted a review of previously published reviews from multiple databases such as Medline, Embase, PsychINFO and EBM Reviews. Searches were guided by a specialist Librarian using specific search terms and were limited to studies published between 1980 and early 2017. Two reviewers independently examined titles and abstracts for relevance and the GRADE (grading of recommendations, assessment, development and evaluation) approach to evaluating the quality of evidence was also applied. The GRADE method is the international standard that applies to weighting of evidence in scientific and medical literature and gives weight to certain evidence based on the level of evidence and strength of recommendation. For example, evidence as a result of randomised control trials (RCTs) are given priority because this study method typically yields more reliable results. RCTs are at the top of the hierarchy of evidence.
This brochure provides a broad overview of the current evidence to support using medicinal cannabis for the above conditions. It also highlights the cautions surrounding treatment, how medicinal cannabis can be prescribed and future research.
The Department of Health will update this brochure as new evidence emerges.
There are companies who have invested in the business of providing Medical Cannabis in Australia. These companies work within the guidelines of the laws governing the product.
An example is https://www.alternaleaf.com.au
Our mission is simple. We want to help people feel better.
We believe everyone should have the option to access natural alternatives over conventional medicines, and yet only 5% of Australian doctors are currently prescribing cannabis. We are here to help you get the right care so you can manage pain, anxiety, insomnia, mental health and other conditions, and live a better life. We are setting new standards in cannabis care by connecting thousands of Australians to qualified doctors and support you through our dedicated patient care team.
It is important to educate yourself on the subject and evaluate if Medical Cannabis could be of benefit to you, and always discuss your options with your primary medical practitioners.