Discuss treatment with your doctor

It doesn't have to be a difficult conversation

Learn more about how to access medicinal cannabis
Step by step guidelines to help understand pathways
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Overview

Patients wanting to learn more, or who are considering medicinal cannabis treatment should first discuss this option with their usual GP or specialist medical practitioner.

As medical cannabis is a relatively new healthcare treatment option for Australian doctors, some practitioners may lack experience or not be comfortable prescribing medicinal cannabis. As most medical cannabis products are currently not TGA-approved, the regulatory framework imposes challenges that are not an issue for established treatments.

Before you meet with your practitioner there are some steps you can take to learn more about this new treatment choice and share this information with your doctor:

Do some research and take it to your next appointment

You can look for clinical studies online that is related to your condition to support your decision for wanting to discuss medicinal cannabis.

Printing out this relevant study or research to take with you to your next appointment can assist the discussion. Most medical practitioners in Australia haven’t been trained in cannabinoid therapy, so they might not know whether this new medicine is right for your situation or if you will be eligible to apply. Showing them peer-reviewed studies can help practitioners understand more about medicinal cannabis as a treatment option for your condition and gives your doctor clinical support for your decision to consider medical cannabis.

Find research relating to various conditions

Be honest and talk about your experience.

When discussing your condition, ensure you discuss with your doctor how you feel and the effects of the medications you have tried. Discuss what has worked and what hasn’t and why you think medicinal cannabis might be a therapeutic alternative. If relevant, you could refer to the research you brought with you.

Now is also the time to be honest and advise your practitioner if you’ve already been taking cannabis and any effects – positive or negative from your experience so far. Your doctor may be curious about the type of cannabis you’ve been taking or even ask why you tried this treatment over more conventional therapies.

Have patience and work together

There is still much to learn about the potential benefits of medical cannabis, how to prescribe it accurately and the pathways to access this medication. Both doctors and patients are exploring the science behind this treatment for various conditions and how it compares to established medications. Showing patience towards doctors who still have questions or need more evidence to feel comfortable prescribing is important. Together, you are more likely to find the best medical outcome for you.

Share your point of view

When your practitioner recommends a treatment for you, this reflects a number of considerations. It’s best to share your thoughts with your doctor about their recommendations and discuss choices if you’re not satisfied. There are different ways to manage many health conditions, and it’s important to discuss the risks and benefits of each treatment; what side effects might occur, how long the treatment will continue, and how likely it is that the treatment will work for you.

Consider your own values and circumstances

When thinking about the pros and cons of any treatment, don’t forget to consider its impact on your overall life. For instance, will one of the side effects interfere with a regular activity that means a lot to you? Is one treatment choice expensive? Doctors need to know about these practical matters so they can work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.

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