When medicinal marijuanas in Australia became easier to access and federally allowed in 2016, there were many cheers heard around the country by advocates and proponents of the substance and its utility.
Medicinal marijuanas in Australia have gone through quite the public transformation, especially in terms of reputation and medical potential. This is in no small part due to the various advocates and research papers that have leant themselves towards alternative medicine treatments for certain ailments and from increased public pressure in recent years.
While the majority of people are on the side of medicinal marijuanas in Australia, there are still many hoops and hurdles that the community, the industry behind it, and the patients receiving treatment. Access is one of the more dichotomous issues, with an increasing number of online vendors supplying legally prescribed medicinal marijuanas in Australia, however the scrutiny and regulations surrounding them still restricts its potential.
There have been many steps forward of course, but there are some crucial aspects to the system in place that could be improved upon or reformed to make the modern industry of medicinal marijuanas in Australia work more efficiently and become more accepted in the wider community.
Demand For Medicinal Marijuanas In Australia
The numbers of patients and people being prescribed medical cannabis has steadily increased since the legislation changes of 2016. In fact, data from the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) have shown that prescriptions have jumped significantly since 2018 to 2021, with approximately 2,500 prescriptions given in 2018 compared to the whopping 122,000 in 2021.
The causation for this appears to be correlated with the relaxing of some laws surrounding access, and a streamlining of the application process through the TGA itself. According to Jennifer Martin who is the director of the Australian Center for Cannabinoid Clinical & Research Excellence, the rise in numbers could also be attributed to unmet needs in the healthcare industry. In particular, the potential benefits that reside in the prescribing of medicinal marijuanas in Australia to possibly alleviate certain symptoms.
As we’ve mentioned, there have been some relaxations in the realm of access and applications for approval. However, with the increased demand, the number of TGA approved cannabis products is still quite low. For physicians to prescribe unapproved medicinal marijuanas in Australia they have to do so through the Special Access Schemes that can be difficult to navigate on large scales.
Hurdle: Those Driving Laws
Another pesky issue that is still in hot debate is that of driving laws, in particular ones related to impairment and the definition therein. As it stands, those who are roadside tested or blood tested and found to have even trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, in their system have been dealt with strict consequences. The main counterpoint to this being that there can be trace amounts in the system of a patient that do not actively impair their ability to drive.
This is perhaps the next big hurdle towards a less stigmatised view of medicinal marijuanas in Australia. However, we will have to wait and see for the time being.