The chief executive of Queensland Health reviews and approves applications to use medicinal cannabis, with the assistance of an expert advisory panel.
The chief executive is the Director-General of the Queensland Department of Health.
Expert advisory panel
An expert advisory panel assists the chief executive to decide applications made under the single-patient prescriber pathway by providing:
- advice for each individual case under the single patient prescriber pathway
- recommendations about the conditions and symptoms for which an approval may be granted
- the medicinal cannabis products used, including type and form
- recommendations about current or proposed research related to medicinal cannabis
The panel may also seek advice from other experts as required both nationally and internationally.
The panel is appointed by the chief executive. When appointing a member, the chief executive considers a person’s experience and expertise. These areas can include:
- science, medicine, or law
- ethics, culture, and sociology
- specialist cannabis researchers
- consumer representative from a peak body.
Depending on the conditions and symptoms being considered under the application, specialists in that field will be called upon for expert opinion e.g. paediatric neurologists for applications regarding children with epilepsy.
Length of approval process
Because medicinal cannabis products are not approved therapeutic goods and have narcotic status, any decisions about treatment need to be carefully considered.
Under the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016, the chief executive must decide an application:
- within 90 days after receiving the application (in most cases, decisions will occur much more quickly than this. The main reason for delay is if the application does not include enough relevant medical background information and clarification has to be sought from the applicant)
- if the chief executive requests further information from the applicant, within 90 days after the further information is received
- if the application is complex, within a reasonable time after the standard period of 90 days.
These are the maximum timeframes.
If an applicant is dissatisfied with the decision of the chief executive, they can request a review. If the decision remains disputed, it can be appealed through the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).
Patient-class prescriber approval
The Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulation 2017 describes patient-class prescribers, the class of patients to be treated, and the medicinal cannabis products to be prescribed.
Clinical guidance for the use of medicinal cannabis products, March 2017 (PDF 492 kB) covers the medical conditions/symptoms and products to be used.