GPs concerned about changes for prescribing medicinal cannabis

20 June, 2017

The body that represents over 90% of Australia’s GPs has concerns about the medicinal cannabis disallowance motion in the Senate recently.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President Dr Bastian Seidel says the move is premature as the evidence for medical cannabis-based products is still emerging.

"There are few high quality clinical trials supporting the use of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of many conditions," Dr Seidel said.

"Further evidence is still needed, particularly relating to treatment efficacy.

"Today’s decision by the Senate is a missed opportunity to streamline the current application processes.

"The current Therapeutic Goods Administration application process features a turnaround time of 2 days.

"This is a strong model that guides GPs and ensures safety for patients.

"This efficient, tested and appropriate process has now been undermined by political point scoring.

"When it comes to medicinal cannabis we need to keep politics out of healthcare.

"Shifting medicinal cannabis from category B to category A for people with a terminal illness means the Therapeutic Goods Administration is no longer required to approve its use and just needs to be informed about a prescription within four weeks.

"This means the risk of prescribing now lies solely with the medical practitioner.

"GPs are open minded when it comes to making effective and safe treatments available to all Australians.

"However, this change undermines the reporting and monitoring processes to the detriment of patients and their doctors.

"I would urge patients to continue to consult with their GPs about appropriate treatments for their medical conditions including the obvious risks and potential benefits of medicinal cannabis.

"GPs will always do their best to act in the best interests of their patients.

"This is an important relationship that should not be undermined by politics."

For more information about prescribing medicinal cannabis see the RACGP position statement on the medicinal use of cannabis products.