The Hodgman Liberal Government is supporting Tasmanians to get access to medical cannabis through the Controlled Access Scheme from September 1.

The Controlled Access Scheme will mean that patients can be prescribed with unregistered medical cannabis products by an appropriately qualified, specialist doctor.

This week’s state Budget will support the implementation of the Controlled Access Scheme with $3.75 million to enable the comprehensive clinical assessment of patients with severe epilepsy who may be eligible for medical cannabis, due to being non-responsive to mainstream medications.

Specialists will consider the scheme’s rules, including patient safety and appropriateness for the individual case.

Importantly, the funding will also improve the treatment of children and young people with severe epilepsy by recruiting more expert staff to support our neurology specialists and increasing the testing and treatment options available.

Tasmania has led the country in calling for a national, evidence-based response to provide safe access to medical cannabis, and the opening of Tasmania’s Controlled Access Scheme will be a significant step forward.

We will continue to work with senior medical clinicians through our Expert Reference Groups, and information for both patients and clinicians will be published on the DHHS website to outline how the Controlled Access Scheme will work.

The Government will also be consulting with local general practitioners (who will play a role in referring patients) in coming weeks.

The Controlled Access Scheme is designed to strike an important balance between medical access and the safety of vulnerable patients with complex and severe conditions.

Any interested patient or parent of a patient who thinks they may meet the criteria for prescription under the Controlled Access Scheme should speak with their GP when the scheme opens.

The available clinical evidence around Cannabidiol and other unregistered medical cannabis products is limited and studies of the role and safety of these products are ongoing.

It is vitally important to not discontinue prescribed, proven medications for epilepsy under any circumstances.

The announced opening of Tasmania’s Controlled Access Scheme follows Tasmanian Alkaloids entering into a partnership with AusCann, which will see medical cannabis also produced in Tasmania – subject to satisfactory licence approval.

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