A Bill to establish a national licensing and compliance scheme for medicinal cannabis has been welcomed by the PSA as an important first step to allow for the safe and appropriate therapeutic use of cannabis.
Health Minister Sussan Ley introduced the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Bill 2016 to develop a single, nationally-consistent compliance scheme to allow the controlled cultivation of cannabis and manufacture and distribution of cannabis products for medicinal or scientific purposes.
PSA National President Joe Demarte says consistent with Australia’s National Medicines Policy, the pharmacy profession supports timely access to medicines for all Australians.
“Pharmacists have an important role in Australia advocating for and supporting consumers and carers to access appropriate medicines,” Demarte says.
As stated in PSA’s position statement Therapeutic use of cannabis, the PSA supports the development of an appropriate regulatory framework to allow formal research to be undertaken to investigate the potential benefits of therapeutic use of cannabis.
“We also recommend that the Bill should support clinical trials currently underway in some States,” Demarte says.
In its position paper, the PSA noted that in some medical conditions, cannabis had provided positive outcomes to individuals who may not have experienced comparable therapeutic benefits from other clinically proven medicines or treatment protocols.
“In order to make cannabis available for therapeutic use, it’s in the interests of the public and patients to have cannabis-based products appropriately regulated to guarantee product quality and safety,” the PSA’s paper says.
In the paper, PSA supports the outcomes of research into the therapeutic use of cannabis to be made widely available so that the evidence base in Australia can be established and enhanced.
“Where under the treatment of a medical practitioner it is established that the potential therapeutic benefits outweigh the risks, PSA supports the use of medicinal cannabis with appropriate medical oversight and ongoing monitoring of outcomes,” the paper says.
The PSA has also called for investment in pharmacist education in relation to medicinal cannabis.