There was a time, not that long ago, when the notion of medicinal marijuanas in NSW would have been laughed out of the room. Oh, how time changes.
After the landmark decision by the Federal Court of Australia to allow the prescribing of medicinal marijuanas in NSW and the rest of the country back in 2016, there have been a number of studies conducted into the efficacy of the substance. There is also continued debate surrounding its potential utility for a wider berth of patients.
Since the defining decision by lawmakers in 2016 and adjustments made to access pathways in 2021, there has been a notable increase in the number of patients being prescribed medicinal marijuanas in NSW and throughout the rest of the country for a myriad of reasons. The methods for prescriptions have also evolved over time with a number of telehealth sites popping up that can prescribe medicinal marijuanas in NSW legally and with due diligence.
This article will explore why medicinal marijuanas in NSW are becoming more commonplace in the public sphere and attempt to highlight some of the potential reasons in a little more detail.
Changes Made To Access Schemes
As we mentioned before, one of the key reasons for the potential jump in prescription numbers was the adjustments made to the approval process. These changes to the Special Access Scheme worked for practitioners and patients that allowed a more streamlined pathway for access and approval.
The changes reduced the headaches associated with the existing pathways, some of which were pointed out in a Parliamentary Senate Inquiry in 2020 which outlined some of the detractions from accessibility.
Simply put, the change involves the demarcation and categorisation of medical cannabis into 5 groups. This may not sound overly dramatic, however, looking closer you begin to see the difference. Before these 5 categories, a prescribing physician of medicinal marijuanas in NSW had to individually write for approval by the TGA and associated governing bodies before being allowed to write a script.
As each product has a different name/supplier, this led to an overwhelming amount of administrative burden for the doctors themselves and a longer waiting period for approvals and treatments to begin/continue.
Under the new rules, physicians only need to become approved prescribers of a category which means patients could be prescribed a different brand of medicinal marijuanas in NSW that falls under the same delineation without needing to wait for approval.
This change could be a potential reason for the increase in patient numbers as the process of approval has been adjusted to relieve the administrative burden from prescribers.
The Numbers Speak For Themselves
A biennial study from the Cannabis as Medicine Survey (CAMS) has shown a 37% increase in respondents claiming they have received a prescription, a jump from 2.5% from the same study in 2018. This is indicative of a changing populace, in terms of attitude towards the substance, and its potential as an alternative treatment option.
The rampant increase in prescriptions of medicinal marijuanas in NSW and the rest of the country is a telling sign of things to come. The main reasons for prescribing medicinal marijuanas in NSW range from patient to patient, however, the data indicates that most are using it for pain and mental health-related ailments.
As it stands now, to be prescribed medicinal marijuanas in NSW or anywhere else in the country, there needs to be some form of due diligence taken regarding treatment options beforehand. Essentially, a prescribing physician needs to demonstrate that there have been discussions or treatment attempts that reside within the ARTG guidelines before approval can be given.
There is some way to go for medicinal marijuanas in NSW, but we’re keeping an eye on any new developments.