Tasmania Emerges Into the Light on Medical Cannabis – Doctors Allowed to Prescribe
Medicinal cannabis products are products lawfully manufactured and prescribed for a therapeutic purpose which are either derived from legally cultivated cannabis plants or synthetically made cannabinoid substances but are not included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) ‘unregistered’. There are many naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Access to medicinal cannabis products follows the same process as for all other scheduled medicines in Australia. Both Commonwealth and Tasmanian legislation, and regulatory frameworks are applicable.
In Tasmania, in order to allow treating practitioners the option of prescribing unregistered medicinal cannabis as part of their treatment of patients, the Tasmanian Government developed the Controlled Access Scheme (CAS) in 2017 for subsidised access to unregistered medicinal cannabis products.
The CAS utilised an established medicines access pathway within the Tasmanian Health Service (THS) and includes criteria which restricts the prescribing of these products to relevant medical specialists in the specific condition being treated and dispensing of these subsidised products may only occur at a THS Pharmacy.
On 16 March 2021 the Premier announced the Government will be making changes to how Tasmanians may access unregistered medicinal cannabis products, which will include authorising Tasmanian General Practitioners to prescribe unregistered medicinal cannabis products, and allowing more pharmacies across the State to be able to dispense these products.
The announcement will align access to unregistered medicinal cannabis products in Tasmania with other Australian jurisdictions from 1 July 2021.