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Medicinal cannabis in Australia: the missing links

Cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes needs considered management before it is rolled out as a therapeutic good

Since the publication in the Journal last year of a perspective on cannabis that stated: “Australia is behind the times on the medicinal use of cannabis”,1 there appears to have been a palpable change in community attitudes around cannabis as medicine.24 This has occurred alongside anecdotal reports from people with intractable illnesses who have had symptomatic benefit with cannabis.5 Palliative care specialists have acknowledged a potential role for medicinal cannabis in their specialty.6 Internationally, the scene is also changing. For example, the Netherlands Office of Medicinal Cannabis enables dispensation through pharmacies after purchase from a contracted company, which also exports to other European countries.7 In the United States, 23 states and Washington, DC, have legalised marijuana in some form, mostly for medicinal purposes, since June 2015.8

In Australia, the New South Wales Government Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme (TICS),9 established in 2014, enables compassionate access to adults…