There have been some inspiring changes in the realm of access to medical marijuanas in Victoria in recent years that have allowed more access to eligible patients. This is a hopeful signifier of good things to come for the industry that has had an undeserved stigma associated with it for quite some time.
Medical marijuanas in Victoria are becoming more popular as time has gone on, in fact, a growing percentage of the country has embraced the notion of medicinal cannabis with open arms. There are several factors in the growing popularity and acceptance of medical marijuanas in Victoria, not the least of which being the streamlined access that has made it easier and simpler for suppliers, prescribers, and patients to access more easily and effectively.
Thanks to these eased restrictions and regulations, there has been a noted increase in the number of legitimate telehealth companies that are able to legally prescribe medical marijuanas in Victoria with licensed healthcare professionals.
This article will be exploring the recent changes that were made to ease the avenue of access of medical marijuanas in Victoria for practitioners and how it all relates to the various Special Access Schemes and approvals processes that are currently enforced.
How Has Access To Medical Marijuanas In Victoria Changed?
At the tail end of 2021 (November 22nd to be more specific) there were implemented changes to requirements for AP and SAS applications for unapproved medicinal cannabis products. As there are only a handful of TGA approved cannabis-based medicines, the vast majority of prescriptions given for ‘unapproved’ medications require approval through the TGA, state government health authority, or both and more.
Defining ‘unapproved’ therapeutic goods/medications
When we say ‘unapproved’ we do not mean it is not allowed – it essentially means that the goods in question are not registered with the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), this means the products have not been tested for efficacy, safety, or quality.
While the necessity for approval hasn’t changed, the manner in which it is conducted has been streamlined and made simpler for prescribers and patients. Approvals and submissions for ‘unapproved’ medications are categorised by the active ingredient in the medication rather than the brand name (which often added administrative burdening and annoyance for prescribers who had to formally submit a new application each time the prescribed medication changed).
The New Categories
The new categories for medical marijuanas in Victoria and the rest of the country are as follows:
CBD Cannabis product where CBD content is more than/equal to 98%
CBD-dominant product where CBD content is more than 60% and less than 98%
Balanced medicinal cannabis product where CBD content is between 60% and 40%
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) dominant medicinal cannabis product where THC content is between 60-98%
THC medicinal cannabis product where the THC content is above 98%
How Do The Changes Help?
Reducing the administrative burden felt by prescribing doctors and allowing more people to access information and a steadier range of medical marijuanas in Victoria has already seen tremendous benefits. Let’s say for example that a patient has been prescribed medical marijuanas in Victoria and the particular medication that the doctor has prescribed is no longer in stock or is suffering a shortage.
Before the changes were made, the doctor would have to reapply to the TGA for approval in order to prescribe a suitable alternative for the patient. Whereas in the new system, there is no need to reapply for approval as the category of the medical marijuanas in Victoria allow for greater flexibility and simpler demarcation of treatment plans, which makes it easier for the doctor and the patient.