If you have carried out in-depth research into medical cannabis you might have noticed that internet is filled with information. You might have even made the decision that this course of treatment is worth exploring. But one of the most frequent questions asked by patients before they begin medical cannabis treatment in Australia is what they can expect during the consultation process.
There are many things to anticipate before a consultation with a medical cannabis consultant, and it is important to be prepared, but the most reputable, fully qualified doctors will make the process as simple as possible.
If you are preparing for a consultation and feel slightly apprehensive or unsure about what it is likely to consist of, here are 7 things you can expect during a meeting with your medical cannabis consultant.
1. Expect Paperwork and Applications
Before your consultation with your medical cannabis doctor, which can last up to 45 minutes depending on various factors, you will need to fill out your registration paperwork and pay an initial cost. The costs charged by a medical cannabis consultant are for the consultation itself, paperwork fees to bodies like the Department of Health and/or application/s to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for permits to access. (Medical cannabis is regulated by the TGA.)
2. Prepare for a Discussion on Your Condition
After you have scheduled in your appointment with your medical cannabis consultant, and completed your registration paperwork, you will have your first consultation. This consultation might either be through a telehealth appointment or you might attend the clinic to discuss your course of treatment with your medical cannabis consultants face to face.
The consultation includes discussing your health condition, your symptoms and how medical cannabis treatment works. You can expect to give information on your previous medical history while focusing on the particular condition to be treated with medical cannabis. If treatment with medicinal cannabis is not appropriate, we will let you know and provide alternative suggestions.
Your medical cannabis consultation also includes discussing the previous medications you have taken in the past for the specific condition you would like treated. It also includes a discussion on the medications that you are taking now, which is important as there is the potential for them to interact with medical cannabis.
3. Expect to Give Your Reasons for Considering Medical Cannabis
Part of your consultation will include a discussion on why you have considered taking medical cannabis. You might therefore want to prepare to describe the reasons why you have chosen this specific course of treatment. It might be that your previous medication options have had intolerable side effects or that they have been ineffective in treating your condition.
Also, as you are serious about this course of treatment, you should expect to give an outline as to what you expect from medical cannabis as a treatment. You can expect your medical cannabis consultant to ask about your expectations. In this case it is important to be prepared to refer to any research you have undertaken and describe the potential benefits of medical cannabis in relation to your specific condition.
4. You Will Learn About the Different Medical Cannabis Products
During your consultation with a medical cannabis doctor, you can also expect to receive the latest, most up to date information on medical cannabis. Medical cannabis consultants aim to provide you with a detailed explanation on exactly what medical cannabis is, in addition to how it is used.
Not only will you gain facts on the risks versus benefits, and the pros and cons of medical cannabis, your medical cannabis consultants will give you information on the science behind medical cannabis and the range of products available. This might include the benefits and drawbacks of things like capsules or medical cannabis oil.
You can also expect to learn about the uses of cannabinoids, potential medical interactions of medical cannabis and how to use it safely.
Medical cannabis can interact with other medicines, which is why it is essential to inform your medical cannabis consultant of the medications you are currently taking.
5. You will Receive a Treatment Plan and a Dosing Guide
As part of your medical cannabis consultation you will receive a treatment plan, which the nurse or doctor will explain to you in detail. You will also be given information on dosing and be guided through the minimal effective dose. This is important as the minimal effective dose will enable you to continue with your daily life while ensuring that you are getting the best care.
6. Your Consultant will Discuss the Access Process with you
During your consultation with your medical cannabis consultant, part of the discussion will include information on the access process.
Access and approval of medical cannabis is usually granted via access schemes such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Special Access Scheme. Your medical cannabis doctor will apply to the TGA to confirm that your condition would be well treated with medical cannabis. Expect to receive details about the medical cannabis access process, in addition to the various steps involved.
7. Expect to Receive a Follow up in Four to Six Weeks for a Review of your Progress
Your medical cannabis consultant will also want to follow up with you and review your progress. You can expect to book another appointment in which you can discuss how you are progressing with your chosen medical cannabis products.
In addition to the specific medical cannabis products you have been taking, you will be able to review the dose of medical cannabis you have been prescribed. Your medical cannabis consultant will be able to make adjustments to your dosage in line with your progress if required.
People Also Ask
Where Can I Find a Medical Cannabis Consultant?
There are a range of medical cannabis clinics available to you in Australia. Cannadoc is one such example, and our reputable, fully qualified medical cannabis doctors and consultants are available to help you access the treatment you require for your condition. Our consultants can assist you whether you are based in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide. Contact us today to find out exactly how we can assist you with your treatment.
Opening up to your doctor about alternative treatments such as medical cannabis might be daunting for a number of reasons. You might be anxious about the fact that medical cannabis is a very new type of treatment in Australia, and both you and your GP might not have much experience in this area.
What this means for you as a patient is that you should undertake a bit of preparation before approaching your GP about medical cannabis and asking for a referral to our clinic. Because, as there are a few hurdles to clear when applying for medical cannabis, being prepared in this area is important.
Improving your health and getting your symptoms treated shouldn’t be stressful, but if you are concerned about how to talk to your GP about medical cannabis as a potential treatment, the information provided here will point you in the right direction.
Why Being Prepared for Your Consultation is Fundamental
Although talking to a GP about medical cannabis and being referred to a medical cannabis clinic in Australia might fill you with worry, being prepared always helps. Even though many doctors might be reluctant to prescribe medical cannabis, some patients are finding it is changing their lives for the better every day. And by approaching your doctor with the following facts, the appropriate mind set, and these tips, you will soon be on your way.
Gather as Much Information on Your Condition as Possible
The more you know about your health condition and the ways that medical cannabis might affect you, the better. So begin by researching your illness as much as possible. Be knowledgeable about your condition before approaching your GP and being referred to a medical cannabis doctor – this way, you will have more of an insight into your GP’s responses and questions.
You should also look into the benefits and potential disadvantages of using medical cannabis, specifically in relation to your illness and symptoms, and be prepared to potentially answer questions about your choice of treatment.
Approach Your GP with Appropriate Questions
Your list of questions will act as a guide and help you to find out more about the uses of medical cannabis in relation to your condition. They will also show that you are serious about this line of treatment and are committed to finding out more. Asking about things like side effects of medical cannabis, or its potential interactions with other medications you might be taking, are both important questions that shouldn’t be forgotten. Being familiar with these things will also assist the Cannadoc doctors during your initial consultation.
You might also go a step further and ask about the most appropriate form of medical cannabis to take. If your GP is unsure ours doctors are experts in this space and will educate you thoroughly. Ask the right questions, as their referral to a medical cannabis clinic in Australia is important for your treatment.
Let your doctor know that you considering specialist medical cannabis doctor seriously.
Study Up on Types and Effects of Medical Cannabis
You might find it a challenge to discover information on the effects of medical cannabis but learning about its properties is another important step to take. As a relatively new treatment, medicinal cannabis has many unknowns. Learning about the way it affects the endocannabinoid system, for instance, requires a lot of research.
By being aware of the clinical trials and studies that have been undertaken into medicinal cannabis you will be able to understand the advice of your medical cannabis doctor at Cannadoc more easily. You will also be able to actively participate in the discussion concerning your quality of treatment.
It also helps to be conscious of the range of forms that medical cannabis can take and the possibility of ingesting it via different types of food.
Being knowledgeable on the pros and cons of medical cannabis can even go a long way to informing your GP where they might lack information. So, not only is approaching a medical cannabis doctor advised for further information via a referral, you should also provide your GP with the details of your medical cannabis clinic. This way, your GP can gain more information about medical cannabis.
Remind Your GP that Medical Cannabis is a Legal Medicine
The fact that your GP might not be completely knowledgeable about medical cannabis means that reminding them it is a medicine is sometimes necessary. The fact that it helps alleviate patients’ symptoms on a daily basis means it is a useful medicine that is regulated and approved by a medical body.
The fact remains, though, that medical cannabis was only legalised fairly recently in 2017. This means that reminding your GP that it is legal might also be important in some cases.
Highlight that Past Treatment Plans Have Been Unsuccessful
Once you have sufficient knowledge of your condition, medical history and ways that past treatment has been unsuccessful, you should use this as a basis to consider medical cannabis as a treatment.
The fact that past treatments have been unsuccessful is a requirement to be eligible for medical cannabis treatment, so being prepared with a log of your previous treatments is highly recommended. Having details on your past treatments, why they have provided slight relief versus why they have for the most part failed is a useful approach. With these details, your GP may refer you to a medical cannabis clinic in Australia, will also help you.
This means you should come prepared with your notes to help you explain each of your unsuccessful treatments. By describing the negative psychological and physiological side effects, for instance, you can make your GP aware that medical cannabis could be a better alternative to your past treatments.
Think About What You Expect from Medical Cannabis Therapy
As your GP will refer you to a specialist medical cannabis doctor such as Cannadoc, not only should you discuss your symptoms, you should consider your expectations of medical cannabis based on your research. Your medical cannabis doctor will validate your symptoms, and the more information you provide them with, the more of a case you can build to access a better quality of life.
Sharing what you expect to get from a medical cannabis treatment reinforces your commitment to alleviating your symptoms.
People Also Ask
What should I do if my GP knows little about medical cannabis?
If you find that your GP doesn’t know enough about medical cannabis, inform them that there are various sources and information available. You can carry out your own research and provide your GP with the details of a specialist medical cannabis clinic in Australia.
What should I do if my GP declines to support my requirements?
If your GP declines to help, don’t worry. You still have other options. You might choose to go to a different local GP and present your research to another doctor, or call our medical cannabis clinic in Australia directly to gain further information.
Back by popular demand, we are hosting another Q&A webinar and this time including a discussion on the latest trends happening in the field! There are some exciting updates to discuss!
If you are a current patient or have any questions about medicinal cannabis then please join us. Maybe you have a success story you would like to share or are wondering if medical cannabis is right for you? Or perhaps you wanted to get a better understanding of cannabis therapy?
All these questions and more will be answered by a qualified medical doctor. We look forward to seeing you at the event!
Please enter any questions or topics you wish to discuss during registration and we will do our best to get through as many as we can over the hour.
Is Cannabidiol (CBD) effective in the treatment of Autism in children? Part I: the evidence.
by Dr David Feng
Most people have heard by now the therapeutic benefits of a medicine derived from cannabis call cannabidiol or CBD. Perhaps the most well-known indication for the use of CBD in children is for severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy. Cannabidiol appears to work particularly effectively in this clinical setting and is generally well-tolerated by patients.
There is also growing evidence in scientific literature (Russo 2011) that CBD may have a host of other therapeutic benefits, such as being:
However, the research is somewhat sparce when it comes to CBD in the treatment of children with Autism, a complex clinical condition that often produces a host of troubling symptoms such as aggression, hyperactivity, and anxiety.
One study conducted by Barchel et al. in 2019 prompted me into looking at this further for such patients presenting to our clinic. In this study, researchers in Israel trialled CBD in 53 children aged 4 – 22 years old with Autism. They found that 67% of treated patients exhibited lower levels of self-injury and rage attacks, and 68% showed a reduction in hyperactivity symptoms. Sleep problems and anxiety also improved in 71% and 47% of children treated, respectively. One downside was that 8.8% of children in this trial showed increased behavioural issues (self-injury and rage attacks), and 23.5% showed increased anxiety levels. This shows that this medication may not work for all patients, so good clinical judgement is recommended.
The researchers in this trial discovered that CBD was generally-well tolerated, but some occasional mild side effects were noted. These were most commonly sleepiness and change in appetite, but these all resolved over time.
Armed with this knowledge, I began to experiment with CBD treatment in children within our clinic over the last year, and the results have been astounding. Many of the patients we have seen thus far have had dramatic improvements in their Autism symptoms, ranging from improved sleep and reduced aggressive behaviours, to reduced anxiety, improved cognitive function, and reduced hyperactivity. Every patient I have seen so far have had no significant issues with side effects that necessitated them to stop. Suffice to say that I was blown away by how successfully this medication has worked for this patient cohort.
In part II of this article, I will run through a case study which exemplifies some of the results we have generally seen in our clinic. Hopefully, this will shed more light into the therapeutic benefits of this amazing medicine.
Russo E. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 2011. (163) 1344–1364.
Barchel et al. Oral cannabidiol use in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to treat related symptoms and Co-morbidities. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2019. Volume 9; Article 1521.
I work as the Medical Director for Cannadoc Health, and in recent months I have been receiving more referrals from doctors about helping their patients with spinal cord injuries. Many of the patients who I consult have a very similar story.
After the initial trauma of the injury, many spinal cord injury patients develop a Chronic Pain Syndrome that tends to worsen with time. This happens as the injury itself causes permanent nerve damage to the spinal cord. The damaged neurons can send off abnormal, irregular, and high intensity pain signals irrespective of any ongoing injury. Over time, such patients become more ‘sensitised’ to the pain, setting off a cascade of secondary symptoms that inevitably worsens their discomfort.
As the pain condition progresses, these patients begin to lose sleep, their muscles start to waste away, and they begin to suffer intermittent cramping and spasms of their muscles. They often describe anxiety, depression, and insomnia because of the chronic nature of the pain, which further drives their distress. This becomes a vicious cycle of pain leading to emotional distress, leading to more pain. Eventually, such patients can become so physically and emotionally worn-down they no longer have any quality of life.
By the time such patients come to see me, they are often at the end of their tether. The majority will have tried a host of traditional front-line therapies such as strong narcotics (or opiates), nerve pain medications, anti-spasm medications, anti-inflammatories, as well as other more invasive treatments. If they come to see me, it means these therapies have not worked well. In such situations, it may be worthwhile exploring a trial of medicinal cannabis.
I have seen spinal cord injury patients that go from severe and daily debilitating levels of pain (often quoted as “15/10” pains) with poor quality of life, to “less than a 1/10” pain within a month of starting cannabinoid therapy. Initially, I thought this was too good to be true, but when this continued to happen consistently, I realised this was no fluke. This is the reason I decided to pursue this relatively new field of medicine; I wanted to find and help others who are suffering similar tragic circumstances.
Therefore, if you are suffering from chronic, debilitating pain, and you have tried and failed traditional therapies for pain relief, consider seeking advice from your doctor about the potential therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis.
In a decade of medicine, I have yet to find a better pain medication than medicinal cannabis in terms of its risk to reward profile. No, it is not going to work for everyone, but for those it works for, the results can sometimes be simply astounding.