New South Wales to Set Up Medical Cannabis Advisory Service to Help Patients and Doctors to Deal With Federal Red Tape

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The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is trying to help doctors to overcome the current federal red tape. Currently, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) does not approve doctors’ applications for medical cannabis, and during the last 12 months, since medical cannabis has been ‘legalized’, only 153 patients have been allowed to access medical cannabis.

Obviously, it is a challenge for every patient, however, patients with life-threatening conditions and palliative care patients are the worst affected.

Palliative patients that could have significant symptoms relief from medical cannabis are forced to wait months and months to find out their application is rejected and obviously, they not only miss out on cannabis treatment but also forced to go through this stressful process.

Medical cannabis advocates around the country are furious over the regulations that make it nearly impossible for patients to access cannabis, most especially about the fact that patients with little time to live are subject to such a lengthy process that takes a lot longer than the time they have left to live.

Medical Cannabis Law Reform Rally and March - Brisbane Australia

The recent Medical Cannabis Law Reform Rally and March in Brisbane evolved around the outrage patients feel about the overly limiting red tape that palliative patients face.  

To help doctors to deal with the federal red tape, the NSW government is setting up the NSW Medical Cannabis Advisory Service from January, that doctors in the state will be able to call for advice during business hours on weekdays. The advisers that the doctors will have access to include a senior doctor and two clinical pharmacists.

“The whole aim of this service is to make it easier for doctors to access medicinal cannabis for their patients … This service will cut out a lot of the work for clinicians and link them with the best available evidence,” NSW Health Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant was quoted saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

This is to address one of the biggest complaints from doctors, that is the amount of time and effort it takes to complete the required regulatory forms.

The service will also help doctors with advice to determine if medical cannabis can help any specific conditions and also to fill out the required regulatory paperwork for the TGA. 

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, made the announcement yesterday, allocating AU$ 6 million to run the advisory service from Hunter New England Health.

“NSW has led the country in its approach to medicinal cannabis. However, doctors want more support about whether to prescribe medicinal cannabis, what specific product to prescribe and how best to prescribe it,” Mr Hazzard said in a statement.

Over half of the allocated funds is set to go to the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence at the University of Newcastle. And the NSW Medical Cannabis Advisory Service is planned to run for a three years trial period.

It is a very encouraging step from the NSW state government that might indicate that the states will not put up with the cruel and inhuman way that the Australian Federal Government adopted to keep patients away from cannabis medication.

This is the first direct step that involves a significant amount of state funds to help NSW medical professionals to deal with the overwhelming limitations that the federal government is trying to enforce through bureaucracy.

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