How do I get a medical card in Australia?
Learn about how to get access to a medical cannabis card in Australia!
In 2016, Australia passed legislation that legally recognized medical cannabis for patients, allowing those with certain medical conditions to get relief when conventional medications have failed. However, Australia is known to have one of the world’s strictest medical cannabis programs, making it difficult to approve some otherwise eligible patients.
Getting a medical cannabis card is a little different than in North America and Europe. It is hard to get access to a medical marijuana card due to strict government rules and regulation.
Rather than giving out cannabis cards for medical use to patients who need them, Australian doctors work with patients to give them prescriptions.
Each prescription needs to be refilled, and this leads to regular visits to a cannabis clinic or TeleHealth.
The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) controls medical cannabis prescriptions/cards and will only grant its approval two ways:
Special Access Scheme (SAS) - Permits certain doctors or healthcare providers to attain therapeutic goods (medications, medical devices, etc.) not listed in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Gods list. Those not listed as deemed as unapproved.
Authorized Prescriber Scheme (APS) – The TGA has approved a doctor or other healthcare provider to prescribe an “unregistered” drug to patients for a certain reason without getting individual approval from the TGA.
In this article, we are going to learn how you can gain access to a medical marijuana card or prescription in Australia!
3 Steps To Attain A Marijuana Card or Prescription From Your Doctor
Any doctor working in Australia may prescribe patient medical marijuana without the need of a card or to visit a specialist. However, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme does not cover the costs of general medical marijuana, meaning patients must endure the whole amount.
The recommending doctor will fill out the medical cannabis application. How do you start the process?
Visit Your Doctor
Patients must see their doctor discuss their condition, symptoms and treatment options. If their doctor feels the patient can benefit from medical cannabis, they will need to submit an application to the TGA. This is different in other countries where patients must apply for medical cannabis use themselves.
Doctor Files Medical Cannabis Request With TGA
After reviewing your case, your doctor will determine if you meet the criteria for medical cannabis. From there, they will file a request with the TGA that lists the health condition you are suffering from and how medical cannabis can help. The application will need to include clinical forms that justify their and their patient’s request.
Some Australian states have a more stringent approval process.
For example, Tasmania requires that patients see a medical specialist upon a referral from their own doctor to determine if a medical cannabis application should be submitted. The referring doctor must note that conventional treatments have failed, and this is a last-ditch effort to help the patient get relief. It is up to the referred specialist to determine if an application to the GTA is warranted.
Doctor Arranges For Medical Cannabis Distribution
Besides the application, the doctor will need to reach out to an eligible medical cannabis pharmacy where the patient will receive their medication.
A patient’s eligibility for a medical cannabis card is based on a doctor’s report. They must provide in great detail the patient’s condition and how medical cannabis can help instead of other medications offered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods and the possible benefits and risks of using the drug.
The doctor’s application and report must provide thorough information about the patient’s diagnosis and symptoms that include previous treatments used and why the ARTG’s listed therapeutic goods are not the best course of action for the recommended patient.
What Health Conditions Legally Qualify For Medical Cannabis Use
Australia has no definite list of medical health problems that qualify a patient for medical marijuana. Some of the many conditions medical cannabis can be used for include:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Cancer pain
- Chemotherapy-causing vomiting and nausea
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neuropathic pain
- Parkinson’s disease
- Psychiatric conditions
When you need a medical marijuana prescription filled in Australia, talk with your doctor to get the process started for you today. Then, don’t live with your pain any longer.
James is an experienced writer and legal cannabis advocate in Australia. He answers all the questions about business, legalisation and medicinal cannabis.
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