Medicinal cannabis is now legal in Queensland but only a handful of doctors have taken up the opportunity to prescribe it.
Health Minister Cameron Dick said there had been 10 applications for single-patient prescribers for medicinal cannabis.
Only a handful of Queensland doctors are registered to prescribe medicinal cannabis. Photo: Getty Images
"Four have been approved and six are pending," Mr Dick said, during the sixth day of budget estimates hearings.
Medicinal cannabis became legal in Queensland last October.
Single-patient prescribers are GPs and specialists who make one-off applications for specific patients, whereas specialists can apply to become patient-class prescribers so they only need to inform the department, rather than apply on a case-by-case basis for individual patients.
Mr Dick said two patient-class prescribers had been approved and he would check if there was an update to the figures since earlier this year, but he was not sure if the number had increased.
"What we are trying to do is work with the medical profession to inform them about this," he said, adding there had been a cannabis symposium earlier this year to educate researchers and healthcare professionals about the new guidelines.
"I think one of the challenges we've got is that there are mixed views, as you'd probably understand and acknowledge, within the medical profession about the use of medicinal cannabis.
"We've supported it, we've progressed it, we've authorised it and we've legislated to make it lawful."
Mr Dick said not everyone agreed with the framework for providing access to medicinal cannabis but the government believed it was the safest way to deliver access.
Buderim One Nation MP Steve Dickson said some parents were still waiting for help.
"We need all the help we can get for these people," he said.
Clinical trials are being held at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and other sites for patients with paediatric drug-resistant epilepsy, Fragile X syndrome, autism, arthritis, palliative care and fibromyalgia.
During a committee hearing for Mr Dickson's medicinal cannabis affordability private member's bill, Australian Medical Association Queensland vice-president Bill Boyd said there had not been enough studies done on medicinal cannabis in Australia for it to be subsidised by government or listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at this time.
Dr Boyd also pointed out there was widespread use of various products, such as apple cider vinegar, pear juice and turmeric, with claims of their therapeutic benefits.
He said to tell patients to "give it a go and see if it helps you" before more scientific studies were done was not a good way to practise medicine.
Mr Dick has previously pushed for medicinal cannabis to be listed on the PBS.
Originally published here: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/just-a-handful-of-doctors-have-prescribed-medicinal-cannabis-in-queensland-20170726-gxizcq.html