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Friday, March 8, 2019

When people breaking the law to use medicinal cannabis

Sixty-five-year-old Julie has never smoked a joint in her life but has started treating herself with medicinal cannabis for pain.

 Key points More ageing Australians are turning to cannabis medication for pain relief although it flouts aspects of the law To date there has been mixed evidence about the benefits of cannabis for pain relief Medicinal cannabis can only be prescribed by a medical practitioner on a case-by-case basis


"I did have cancer and as a result I have neuropathy [nerve pain] in my feet, and arthritis in my fingers, and since I've been using medicinal cannabis that is starting to improve," Julie said, who did not want to use her real name. "The big one though is I have sports injuries — spinal and ligament wear and tear — and now my pain is 95 per cent healed." Julie has been taking two drops a night of a cannabinoid oil and a paste with a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) dose under her tongue in the morning.

She is one of a growing number of senior Australians who are buying homemade medicinal cannabis products for pain relief, despite it being early days in scientific research to support the drug's effectiveness. While there is a legal process for using medicinal cannabis, it can only be prescribed by a medical practitioner and this is done on a case-by-case basis.

 General practitioners can apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for approval for a script for individual patients or can become authorised prescribers. To date the TGA has approved applications for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, paediatric epilepsy, cancer pain, anorexia, and in some cases of palliative care.

ABC North Coast  By Catherine Marciniak

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