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Medicinal cannabis in Queensland

Queensland is making the use of approved medicinal cannabis products possible as a treatment for certain conditions when the patient has already tried the conventional treatments available for their condition or symptoms, and these have failed or cause intolerable side-effects.

Queensland doctors are able to prescribe medicinal cannabis and integrate this into a patient's existing treatment plan, with the approval of Queensland Health and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Regulatory and quality controls on the type of medicinal products that can be used ensure that products:

  • contain exactly what they say and do not contain unknown or harmful ingredients
  • are fit for use and are of a reliable consistency
  • are well made through the use of good manufacturing practices
  • will not cause harm.

The Queensland Government does not support recreational use of cannabis, and any access to cannabis outside of this framework remains illegal.

More information:

When to prescribe

An approved doctor may consider prescribing an approved medicinal cannabis product when:

  • there is some clinical evidence or indication that the product may be beneficial for their condition or symptoms

AND

  • the patient has already tried the conventional treatments available for their condition or symptoms and these have failed or cause intolerable side-effects.

Conditions that may benefit

Current limited evidence suggests that medicinal cannabis may be suitable to treat:

  • severe muscular spasms and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis
  • chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • some types of epilepsy with severe seizures
  • palliative care (loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, pain).

There is no evidence that medicinal cannabis is an effective treatment for cancer.

Patients should not:

  • consider medicinal cannabis as an alternative treatment for cancer
  • defer their standard treatment in favour of using medicinal cannabis.

Medical access

The only way patients can legally access medicinal cannabis is if their doctor applies to both:

Medicinal cannabis is lawful when the cultivation, manufacture, prescribing, and supply complies with all applicable Commonwealth and State laws.

More information:

Restricted access patients

Patients who are prescribed medicinal cannabis products will still be able to take these when they are admitted into hospital, nursing home, or hospice. If the patient is at school they can have the prescribed product administered at school in the same way as other medicines.

Conditions of use

Treatment with medicinal cannabis will be subject to conditions:

  • treating doctor must monitor the patient's condition and report to Queensland Health at least every 3 months
  • patient cannot use the prescribed medicinal cannabis for any purpose other than their approved treatment
  • pharmacists (and doctors if dispensing) must make a medicinal cannabis management plan detailing how the risks associated with performing activities with medicinal cannabis will be managed.

Clinical trials

Participants in clinical trials for medicinal cannabis use medicinal cannabis products approved by the TGA and the Ethics committee. The dose depends on the specific trial protocol. Generally there is no cost for medicine supplied through a clinical trial.

Developing an Australian product

Australia does not currently have any legal locally produced medicinal cannabis products available. However, the Commonwealth Government has passed legislation to allow medicinal cannabis products to be cultivated and manufactured in Australia.

Legislation and controls

The Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016 provides the framework for Queensland doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis as part of their patient's overall treatment.

The Act includes monitoring and enforcement controls to ensure medicinal cannabis products are not used illegally. These controls are consistent with other legislation.

The Commonwealth Government has passed legislation to allow the controlled cultivation of cannabis in Australia.

Queensland does not have an amnesty scheme.

Last updated: 1 March 2017