Over the past few years, a number of Australians have expressed interest in the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. There have only been a limited number of well-designed clinical studies on medicinal cannabis and so it is hard for some doctors to find quality evidence to support decisions to prescribe medicinal cannabis.
The Commonwealth Department of Health, in conjunction with state and territory governments, has helped coordinate the development new clinical guidance documents for prescribers of medicinal cannabis products for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic non-cancer pain and palliative care, as well as an overview document.
The guidances are based on the work of a team from the Universities of New South Wales, Sydney and Queensland, under the co-ordination of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, who reviewed the clinical evidence for the use of medicinal cannabis that had been published in refereed medical journals since 1980.
A range of organisations from across Australia were involved in developing the guidance documents, including:
- 18 patient and consumer representative groups
- All state and territory health departments
- 15 health care professional organisations
- Clinical staff from 29 hospitals and health care systems
- 14 outpatient or primary health networks.
The documents have been endorsed by the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis.
There is also a specific consumer brochure. These guidance documents will be updated iteratively when new evidence emerges.