A close photo of an untrimmed crows foot on a commercial cannabis plant.

Rory Savatgy

Australian MMJ Program Requirements too ‘Onerous’ for Many Would-be Patients

Australian patients and physicians are lamenting the lack-of-access to medical cannabis in the nation, claiming that the strict regulations are forcing seriously ill patients into the illicit market, the Australian Broadcasting Company reports.

“It just seems that so many obstacles are being put in place of [general practitioners] and specialists that it’s creating an impossible situation,” said Dr. Brad McKay, a Sydney physician, in the report. “These are kids and we [have] a situation that prevents doctors from prescribing them a drug that’s less harmful than a lot of the other drugs they use.”

Steve Peek, whose daughter suffers from seizures, says she has so far been unable to access the program which has caused him to lose faith in the political and medical systems, and the government. He admitted he has been dosing his daughter every six hours with a product he obtained illegally, which reduces his daughter’s seizures by 90 to 95 percent.

“They say it’s been legalized. It’s not legalized,” he said in the report. “You can’t get it no matter what you do.”   

Teresa Nicoletti, a partner at Mills Oakley, said she is now working full-time to help patients and parents navigate the “quite onerous” system, which she indicated requires patients to provide published medical literature and specialist reports.

The government claims that medical cannabis approvals take “often as little as two days”; however Nicoletti argues that approvals are taking “a lot longer” than that because understanding the legislation “is very difficult.”

Justin Sinclain, a pharmacognosist in Sydney, Australia, said that in many cases the medical literature required by the government “does not exist.”

“There is a great paucity of evidence in the literature, at least when it comes to human trials,” he said. “It’s hard to be able to sit there and say ‘we’re open for business’ when indeed 70 years of prohibition of cannabis [means] we can’t collect that evidence.”

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