FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What forms do I need?

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis we will look at each patient on a case by case basis.

Normally however, patients should send us their health summary sheet and a referral to info@cannadoc.com.au.

Doctors can use their own referral format or ours which can be found here.  Please note, all information is treated as strictly confidential.

How does medical cannabis work?

The cannabis plant produces natural compounds called cannabinoids that can help regulate our body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for many key physiological functions, including mood, memory, energy, metabolism, and immunity. These compounds can be extracted from the plant and used in medicine to help alleviate a host of symptoms.

The cannabinoids that are in greatest abundance in cannabis (and used most in medicine) are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and CBD (cannabidiol).

Will I get a ‘high’ from medical cannabis?
A common concern for patients is that medical cannabis will make them feel euphoric or ‘high’. In clinical practice however, this is not what we are trying to achieve. The main goal in using medical cannabis is to achieve good relief of symptoms without producing a ‘high’, and ideally doing it with minimal or no side effects. This is accomplished by starting at low doses and slowly titrating up to effective therapeutic levels. Our doctors will conduct a thorough assessment of patients and will prescribe the most appropriate dosage based on symptoms.
Can I grow or purchase my own cannabis?
Currently in Australia it is illegal to grow cannabis for your own personal use, while acquiring it on the black market can bring with it with a multitude of problems (outside of its illicit status). Firstly, street-sourced products can fluctuate wildly in potency from one batch to another which makes consistent dosing and titration difficult to achieve.

Secondly, street-sourced products can often be contaminated with bacteria, moulds, heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides that can be harmful when consumed. Therefore, we would strongly recommend using a pharmaceutical-grade cannabis medicine. This would ensure there is consistency of product, along with a guarantee that it is grown under sterile and contaminant-free conditions.

How do I know what product and dose is right for me?
The sensitivity of each person’s underlying endocannabinoid system is highly variable. Thus, medicinal cannabis should be considered a personalised medicine. There is no single type of product, dosage, or mode of delivery that is optimal for everyone. We recommend speaking to your doctor to figure out a treatment plan that is right for you.
Is medical cannabis addictive?
There is some evidence in the scientific literature to suggest that cannabis has a low risk profile for addiction, with lower rates of addiction in regular cannabis users than in users of alcohol, tobacco, and even caffeine1.
Will I develop tolerance to medical cannabis?
Interestingly, medical cannabis users tend to quickly develop tolerance to its side effects (over a few days), but not to its beneficial effects. So over time, escalation in dose is not generally needed, and often patients can maintain a stable daily dose for many years2.
When should I not use medical cannabis?
It is not advisable to take medical cannabis while pregnant or breast feeding. Also, children, teenagers, and patients with a history of psychosis/schizophrenia, or unstable heart disease should avoid products containing a cannabinoid called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
What are the potential side effects of medical cannabis?
Most side effects come from its THC component (2).

Potential common side effects include:
• Drowsiness/fatigue
• Dizziness
• Dry mouth
• Cough/sputum/bronchitis (when smoked)
• Anxiety
• Nausea
• Cognitive effects

Does medical cannabis interact with other medications?
Most interactions occur when cannabis is combined with medications that can cause drowsiness. As THC can have sedative effects, adding it to other medications can compound the risk of sedation. Drug interactions will be discussed during the assessment.
Is medical cannabis a registered medication?
Most medicinal cannabis products are unregistered medicines and have not been approved by the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Therefore, its prescription is only permitted for use under 2 specific conditions:

1. The treating doctor is granted an individualised patient approval to prescribe cannabis via the TGA’s Special Access Scheme
2. The treating doctor qualifies as an Approved Prescriber

How is medicinal cannabis taken?
Medicinal cannabis can be taken in a variety of ways depending on the clinical indication. These include: • Oral – e.g. through a spray, oil drops, or capsules • Vaporisation – e.g. by using a specialised medical device that heats the cannabis flowers and causes the release of cannabinoids into a vapour form, which is inhaled • Topical – patches, gels, or creams The smoking of cannabis is strongly discouraged as this can create an abundance of toxic compounds that can cause cancer.
How quickly should I feel the effects of medicinal cannabis?

Vaporisation results in rapid absorption into the body, with first effects occurring within 90 seconds, reaching a peak after 15-30 minutes, and can last 2-4 hours. This method is best used where a rapid onset of action is desired.

Oral preparations/sprays are absorbed more slowly and take around 30-90 minutes to take effect. Peak effects occur around 2-4 hours and can last for up to 8 eight hours or more.

Can I drive after taking medicinal cannabis?
Driving under the influence of THC is illegal in Australia. Your suitability to drive depends on the type of treatment you have been prescribed, and this should be discussed with your doctor.
Is medicinal cannabis expensive and what are your fees?

As medicinal cannabis is an unregistered medicine, it is not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which makes it more expensive than other PBS-approved medications. Most patients can expect to pay between $5 to $10 per day for medicinal cannabis but it ultimately depends on the dose and frequency.

At Cannadoc Health, we pride ourselves in providing a high-end comprehensive service in all aspects of cannabis-based treatment. We understand that it can be hard to find good, reliable information in the medicinal cannabis space. Therefore, we have made it a priority to provide in-depth education to our patients so they can make an informed choice regarding their treatment.
At the initial consult, we conduct a thorough evaluation of your medical history, and based on your situation, we tailor a specific treatment plan to your needs. This first consult will take approximately 45 minutes and the out-of-pocket initial cost for this consultation is $200.
Dependant upon the finding in the initial consultation we then apply to the TGA and State Health body on your behalf for a permit to access medicinal cannabis. This application process can be complex and time consuming, and as such attracts a once-off administrative fee (variable). Subsequent follow-up appointments will usually incur an out-of-pocket fee of approximately $50 to $75 depending on the services rendered.
If you have any questions on our fee structure or how the process works, please don’t hesitate to call or email us.

References:
1. Anthony JC, Warner, LA, and Kessler RC. Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled sub¬stances, and inhalants: basic find¬ings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 1994;2(3), 244–268.

2. MacCallum CA and Russo EB. Practical considerations in medical cannabis administration and dosing. European Journal of Internal Medicine 2018; 49, 12-19.

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