48-hour access to medicinal cannabis

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says the Turnbull government’s proposal to allow easier access to medicinal cannabis products will improve Australian patients’ quality of life.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said the proposal for access to medicinal cannabis within 48 hours of approval was submitted at the Council of Australian Governments meeting last week and was in line with advice from the RACGP.

“Australian GPs want to see a commitment to a nationally consistent framework for medicinal cannabis access,” Dr Seidel said. “If a specialist GP has decided with their patient that medicinal cannabis is a viable treatment option, then that GP should not be forced to jump through hoops and to have to ask for yet another specialist opinion.

“Patients and doctors should not have to wait months to access a drug that may improve a patient’s quality of life.”

Dr Seidel said the current application process for medicinal cannabis access is onerous, too lengthy and does not value the important role specialist GPs play in prescribing medicinal cannabis products.

“GPs are in an excellent position to prescribe medicinal cannabis, without the need to refer to other specialists for approval to prescribe,” he said.

Dr Seidel said medicinal cannabis was an emerging field and there was still significant confusion about who could access the drug.

“Medicinal cannabis is never the first line of treatment for any medical condition but there is substantial evidence that it might be the treatment of last resort for some patients,” Dr Seidel said. “If I have a patient who has tried all standard treatment options without success, I should be able to consider prescribing medicinal cannabis as a viable treatment option without having to wait months.

“Prime Minister Turnbull’s proposal is compassionate, logical and the only way forward for Australian GPs and their patients.”