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Here Are The Answers To All Your Burning Questions About Medicinal Cannabis


Here Are The Answers To All Your Burning Questions About Medicinal Cannabis

It was announced recently that the NSW Government would be pouring $6 million into funding for doctors to receive education about the prescription of medicinal cannabis.

This follows reports of mass under-prescription, with the trend emerging largely due to a lack of education on the topic - an issue which the NSW Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Service hotline will attempt to redress with its implementation in January next year.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has said that this initiative will provide doctors and patients, especially those in palliative care, with confidence and support in using medicinal cannabis.

Medicinal cannabis has been legalised in Australia, however according to CEO of the Hydroponics Company David Radford, there remains a misconception about the place of cannabis in the medical sphere.

"Medicinal cannabis has many uses," Radford told Triple M.

"More recently, it has been developed for post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome, epilepsy, tourrets, Parkinson's and I believe Alzheimer's. So there seems to be a lot of value in it with regard to neurological disorders, as well as the rapidly growing market in Canada in the treatment of pain.

"It is a product that is actually a range of chemical compounds that when taken together seem to accentuate each-other and have far-reaching effects."

Minister Hazzard has touted the $6 million initiative as a move in the right direction for NSW, especially since the state has been a leader in Australian approaches to medicinal cannabis.

However, on the international stage, there remains a bit of catching up to do.

"Israel and Canada are both global pioneers when it comes to using medicinal cannabis therapeutically, and as a result of that, we are seeing a push in Australia for the legalisation and increase in availability," Radford said.

"We are probably in the middle of the pack in terms of accessibility, and again it comes down to educational positions and familiarity."

When speaking about medicinal cannabis, a common misconception surrounds the form this drug would take.

Rather than lighting up a blunt or a tacky DIY bong, the nature of medicinal cannabis means that it would typically take the form of capsules, gel capsules, topical oils or patches.

Medicinal cannabis involves isolating cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and refining their production to minimise harm, with varying levels of cannabinoids present in the products depending on the condition they are used to treat. 

"In Australia, the focus is on the delivery of oils," Radford said.

"This could be taken as drops in the mouth or as capsules. These are the two main delivery methods that are beginning to develop in Australia."

Naturally, there remains stigma surrounding the use of medicinal cannabis.

However, Radford recalled seeing old women in their 70s in Canada using the non-psychoactive part of the drug, CBD, to help ease arthritis pain.

"There is a stigma associated with it. I think it's the fact that cannabis is viewed as the 'illicit drug' of teenagers, and that's part of the association," Radford said.

"In looking to overcome that, there is familiarity, there is education - and as that comes, people will become far more familiar.

"So people are now looking beyond the stigma and more to how we can bring this into common practice, how do we educate the physicians and patients, and how do we do this in a controlled, logical fashion?

"I think the Australian Government are taking a very responsible roll-out approach to the market, but in conjunction with education of physicians and patients, it will be a very rapid growth curve.

So what can we expect to see as further resources are put into education surrounding medicinal cannabis?

"In terms of in 12 months, that's a very difficult thing to forecast, as it's such a developing market," Radford said.

"My hope would be that there are a range of physicians that have received training in the cannabinoid system, and are prescribing to the patient cohorts that will benefit from this.

"And I think that's down to ourselves, as the companies, to make sure that we provide that education so that the whole pharmaceutical benefit is destigmatised."