Changes to legislation on medicinal cannabis have the potential to be mistaken by patients as official endorsement of its use, according to a position statement released this week by the RACGP.
The RACGP has released the statement, which says there is very little high quality evidence for the medical use of cannabis, ahead of tomorrow’s introduction of Commonwealth legislation that will make medicinal cannabis a controlled prescription drug.
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel says GPs may see an increase in requests for medicinal cannabis.
“Recent changes to the legislation may have created an incorrect perception of easy access to cannabis products,” he says
“GPs may experience greater patient demand to prescribe cannabis-based medications.
“Further evidence is still needed, particularly relating to treatment efficacy and the longer term side-effects of cannabis-based drugs.
“As is the case with all medications, cannabis products must be approved or registered through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) before they can be prescribed.
“The current evidence base for the use of cannabis-based medicines is still emerging, and these products can be prescribed only under strict protocols,” says Dr Seidel.
“The emerging evidence suggests the use of cannabis medications for some patients with certain conditions that do not respond to mainstream treatments.
“Cannabis-based medications are associated with a significantly increasedrisk of short-term adverse events. The potential therapeutic effects of the full complement of all of the compounds in the cannabis plant have not been tested and is an area identified for future research. In particular, the synergistic or entourage effects from the full spectrum of constituents are thought to be important in treatment efficacy.
“Similarly, how the constituent compounds may interact with other medications is not understood.”