Information about medicinal cannabis for pharmacists in Tasmania
Regulation of medicinal cannabis products follows the same regulatory process as for all other medicines and includes both Commonwealth and State legislation and frameworks.
- Medicinal cannabis products are scheduled in the Commonwealth Poisons Standard.
- Applicable controls depending on the product schedule are applied in Tasmania under the Poisons Act 1971 and Poisons Regulations 2018.
- Most medicines prescribed in Australia have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for inclusion on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
- Medicines are only included on the ARTG when the TGA is satisfied with the medicine’s evidence of quality, safety and efficacy.
- Medicines that the TGA has either not assessed, or that have insufficient evidence of quality, safety and efficacy are known as ‘unregistered’ medicines.
Eligible prescribers of medicinal cannabis
In Tasmania, a registered medical practitioner can prescribe unregistered medicinal cannabis to a patient if:
- they believe it is clinically appropriate
- have obtained all required Commonwealth approvals and State authorisations
- are present and practising in Tasmania when issuing the prescription for Schedule 8 products.
For further information on required approvals, please visit the prescribers of medicinal cannabis in Tasmania section on our website.
Dispensing medicinal cannabis prescriptions
Prescriptions for medicinal cannabis products may be legally dispensed at any pharmacy in Tasmania if the prescription meets the requirements of:
The Tasmanian poisons legislation details requirements for dispensing, recording, packaging, labelling and reporting associated with Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medicines (including medicinal cannabis products). Commonwealth requirements and professional practice standards and guidelines for dispensing medicines also apply. Visit the Pharmacy Board of Australia website and professional organisations for further practice guidance.
Obtaining medicinal cannabis products
- Registered medicinal cannabis products are available through usual pharmaceutical supply pathways.
- If the prescription is for an unregistered medicinal cannabis product, you must identify the manufacturer or sponsor/supplier to arrange ordering. This information may be found on the TGA Special Access Scheme (SAS) or Authorised Prescriber (AP) Scheme approval form.
- For unregistered medicinal cannabis products, you must provide the supplier with a copy of the SAS or AP approval form before the supplier can release the product.
- Prescribers will usually provide a copy of the TGA approval to the patient with their prescription. If not, you must contact the prescriber for a copy.
- Contact details for licensed manufacturers, sponsors and suppliers are available from the Office of Drug Control (ODC) website.
- If the product is not available through the sponsor, you may need to apply for a licence and a permit to import the unregistered medicinal cannabis product from an approved overseas manufacturer. Information on import is available on the ODC website.
Storage of Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis products
Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis products must be stored as per the requirements of Regulation 29 of the Poisons Regulations 2018. Some products require refrigeration. In a retail pharmacy or hospital pharmacy, refrigerated storage must meet all the following requirements to be considered an approved storage arrangement for Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis products:
- The refrigerator must be in a dispensary, room or enclosure to which the public does not have access.
- The refrigerator must be securely attached to a part of the premises.
- The refrigerator, or the room or enclosure in which the refrigerator is kept, must be kept securely locked when not in immediate use.
- A key used to secure the refrigerated storage must be kept on the person of a pharmacist or be securely locked in a safe that can be unlocked only by a pharmacist.
- A code or combination that is used to secure the refrigerated storage must not be disclosed to any person who is not a pharmacist.
- The refrigerator must not be used to store any other item that is not a substance listed in Schedule 2, 3, 4 or 8 or is not a therapeutic good.
Clinical evidence resources for pharmacists
- High-quality peer-reviewed scientific literature supporting the use of medicinal cannabis to treat a range of conditions is limited.
- The role of medicinal cannabis will become clearer as additional research is published and the evidence base expands.
- The TGA has developed a series of clinical guidance documents to assist doctors and patients to understand the evidence for the potential uses of medicinal cannabis. These guidance documents have been based on evidence reviews conducted by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and can be accessed via the TGA website.
Professional organisation statements
- Faculty of Pain Medicine, Australia New Zealand College of Anaesthetists: PM10, 2019, Statement on “Medicinal Cannabis” with particular reference to its use in the management of patients with chronic non-cancer pain
- The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists: Clinical Memorandum: Therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis products, January 2021
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners: Use of medicinal cannabis products Position statement – 2019 update
Clinical evidence resources for your patients
Visit the TGA website to access two patient information documents for potential uses of medicinal cannabis:
- Medicinal cannabis products: patient information
- Guidance for the use of medicinal cannabis in Australia: patient information
You can also direct your patients to the NPS Medicine Wise website for information about medicinal cannabis.
Training and education
Accredited continual professional development courses for registered health professionals about medicinal cannabis may be available through education providers including major health professional representative organisations.