Cann I Help is offering free initial consultations in a bid to alleviate the financial strain on patients alongside its previously announced rapid and compassionate access programs.

Head of Medical at Cann I Help, Dr Laurence Kemp, said: “We recognise the economic challenges facing many Australians today. Offering complimentary initial consultations underscores our dedication to making a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.”

Dr Laurence Kemp (Photo: United in Compassion)

Cann I Help, which is owned by cannabis producer Medcan, said the free first consultations, which started last month, “represent a sincere effort… to support individuals grappling with various medical conditions, such as chronic pain and sleep disorders, through alternative… solutions”.

Patients will either be bulk billed through Medicare or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), or be offered a free consultation if they do not quality through either. For those patients, a A$19 fee will apply if they request their prescriptions be sent to an external pharmacy.

Explaining the pharmacy charge, introduced when its consultation fees were scrapped at the beginning of April, Kemp said: “The $19 is charged once per consult, not for each prescription and only for appointments/patients who are not eligible for bulk billing, where we provide an appointment for free.

“It also does not apply to patients on our compassionate program or to DVA patients. In reality this charge only applies to a minority of patients.”

He added: “As a clinic you have a choice. Either you offer free or cheap consultations but limit you patient’s choice of products or pharmacy to generate revenue from sales, or you charge a much higher consultation fee and offer patients a broader choice.

“We believe we have stuck an optimal balance between the two ends of the spectrum.  Patients happy to use our pharmacy receive free, or bulk-billed, consultations. Patients who prefer to use their own chemist have an unrestricted choice and still get exceptional value. 

“So $19 for a consultation with a prescriber is a fantastic deal from anybody’s perspective.  The patient is in control of their own pathway.”

In the three years since the establishment of the Cann I Help network, Kemp said there has been a “notable shift in societal attitudes towards alternative medicine”.

“This initiative serves as another step towards normalising the use of medicinal cannabis for managing diverse medical conditions,” he said.

In February, Cann I Help launched its rapid access program, an appointment and consultation process which aims to issue a cannabis prescription for eligible patients in 60 minutes.

The network also runs a compassionate access scheme to help patients who are unable to afford medicinal cannabis treatments not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and a veterans’ access program.

It has served more than 15,000 patients since its inception in 2021.

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

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