Patients will have easier access to medicinal cannabis under new rules to take effect from Monday. Photo: istock
PATIENTS will have easier access to medicinal cannabis under new rules to take effect from Monday.
Under the regulations, South Australian medical specialists will be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients for short terms without State Government approval.
However, the move will be balanced by other safety nets including the retention of strong checks and balances for those patients wanting prescriptions for two months or more.
The State Government hopes the move will not only make it easier for patients to access medicinal cannabis but could open the door for a new industry producing the drug in South Australia.
Acting Premier Kyam Maher told the Sunday Mail the State Government was committed to ensuring South Australians had access to the full range of treatments and services to promote the best health outcomes for patients and the community.
“This is about legal patient access and making it easier than most other states to access medicinal cannabis,” Mr Maher said.
He said the state’s biomedical precinct on North Tce in the city could also play a key role in putting South Australia at the forefront of the new industry.
“The opportunities for industry development of medicinal cannabis may also provide for high value jobs across the supply chain from research and development, growing, manufacture and transport and logistics,” he said. “South Australia has also written to the Federal Government about the possibility of export opportunities.”
World research has shown medicinal cannabis can provide relief to patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis and childhood epilepsy.
In November last year, the Federal Government made it easier for Australians to access medicinal cannabis but specialists had to get State Government approval to prescribe the drug.
Medical specialists will still need State Government approval when medicinal cannabis is being prescribed for longer than two months or to a patient already using a drug like morphine. Federal Government approval to import an unregistered medicinal cannabis product is still required.
Under SA law, it is an offence to possess cannabis, including cannabis oil, for personal use.
Those caught with it face a maximum fine of $500. Those who supply or administer cannabis face a maximum fine of $2000 and two years’ jail.
The new patient pathway aligns access to medicinal cannabis with existing legislation for other Schedule 8 medicines such as morphine.