As support for the legalisation of recreational cannabis grows in Australia, Cannabiz editor-at-large Rhys Cohen analyses what it would mean for medical cannabis patients.

In 2013, the legalisation of recreational cannabis was supported by approximately 26% of Australians aged 14 years and older. Since then, that level of support has on average grown by roughly 2-3% every year. The most recent data from 2019 estimated popular support had reached 41%.

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Rhys Cohen

As well as being editor-at-large at Cannabiz, Rhys is the director of Cannabis Consulting Australia, which provides commercial consulting services to various domestic and international cannabis companies....

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6 Comments

  1. As a patient of medical cannabis I feel that it would hurt the people that need it, not help, for so many reasons… One thing I would like people to know is that the price is already past what street prices are, but street cannabis isn’t even close to as good as medical. And to be honest the systems in place at the moment to get a script and product are really good and simple I feel… I just think it’s something that needs to be controlled to a point eg the approvals people need to take and be responsible for it… In saying this I’m all for it if things are done right and not just rushed through. Plus a lot more grow farms will be needed. And if anyone is interested I take three different types a day plus a 20:20 oil.

  2. It is interesting when you look at this debate and also when you consider the benefits of psychedelic medicine. I know there have been recent studies where cancer patients are using medicinal psychedelic to address facing death and to become more comfortable with it.

    How do we as a nation address the massive trauma issues caused by COVID, bushfires, tripling of domestic violence worldwide, bushfires etc without using these alternates?

    I have seen the benefits when applied to treatment of ptsd type issues.

  3. Yes, Rhys is spot on as usual.

    It’s a real shame to hear that some clinics (I say some as I am sure it’s not the norm) call patients to recommend specific products and strains. I would have thought this is a conflict of interest.

    Rhys I also learned recently that some clinics sell the patient to a cannabis company, have you ever heard of this, and is this even legal?

  4. First, the plain truth is that we could simply erase all references to cannabis in the criminal laws and it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference. Any problem related to marijuana can already be addressed under other laws. California proved it with Prop. 215, in 1996.

    Only one person that I have ever met has been able to define the difference between “medical” use and “recreational” use. Authors who make claims or decisions about it never can.

    Unfortunately, no-one likes the explanation. Stoners don’t like it, and prohibitionists don’t like it. I will demonstrate.

    Let’s suppose we have two stoners sitting on the couch, hitting a bong. Both claim they are “medical”, but you know one is not. Give us the clear and objective criteria that you would use to decide that one is really “recreational”.

    Your answer must be clear enough to justify an actual distinction in the law.

    The first answer that comes up is: “They have to have a serious illness”. If you check the law, there is no definition of “illness” or “serious”, let alone “serious illness”. [Edited under our comment moderation policy].

    The second answer that comes up is: “They need a doctor’s approval”. In California, that costs $50, takes 15 minutes, and I have never heard of anyone who was refused, if they asked.

    Dr. Tom O’Connell did life histories on 5,000 medical marijuana patients in California. He wondered why so many people were claiming medical problems and wanted to see what the common denominators were.
    He found that, while many of them had a verifiable medical complaint for which marijuana might work, lots of them had already been smoking marijuana before they came down with the complaint.

    The common denominator was anxiety. Lots of them had [edited under our comment moderation policy] early diagnoses with things like ADD, ADHD, and PTSD. They were using marijuana to self-medicate anxiety.

    Everyone has anxiety from time to time, so when does anxiety become “medical”? In every other circumstance, anxiety becomes “medical” when it bothers the person [enough] that they go to the doctor and ask for some Valium.

    The doctor doesn’t have an anxiety meter they can hook up to the patient, so the doctor has to largely take the patient’s word for it. It is, in fact, the patient who determines when anxiety is “medical”. It is also the patient who is the only one who can determine what works best to relieve it.

    As Dr. O’Connell argued, the only dividing line that makes sense is this: If you accepted the doobie passed to you at the concert, that’s “recreational”. If you bought it for yourself, then you went to the trouble to seek it out, that’s “medical”.

    That is the only definition that matches our current rules with other anti-anxiety drugs.

    However, stoners don’t like that explanation because it implies they have anxiety problems. Guys generally don’t like admitting to anxiety problems.

    Prohibitionists don’t like it because it means anyone can be “medical” who wants to be. But it is the only explanation that survives even five minutes of analysis.

  5. There is still exorbitant amounts of dogma surrounding the idea of ‘illicit drugs’ for cannabis. Until this dogma is addressed, I don’t believe the industry can go forward.

    Any pharmaceutical formulation, by the nature of pharmacology itself, requires extraction from the plant material and isolation in order to be dosed correctly. These pharmaceutical formulations are, for the distribution to general public, almost always metabolic in their delivery system. This is because pharmaceutical medicines are attempting to induce the body’s natural metabolic systems to create the components required to balance the underlying endocannabinoid system.

    Cannabis, as the sole proprietor of cannabinoid synthesis genetics outside of humans, does not work the same way. Exogenous cannabinoids such as THC or CBD are handy for humans who have weak cannabinoid synthesis pathways. Fatty acid metabolism is poor in many modern humans due to glycemic diets and the delivery of cannabinoid lipids into the bloodstream via inhalation is a unique medicinal dosing mechanism; one which requires proper education of the individual doing the dosing in order to glean the full benefit of the cannabinoids.

    Absolutely no combustion or solvent extraction is required to take full advantage of all parts of the cannabis plant; however pharmaceutical companies have jumped directly to the extraction of psychoactive cannabinoids using solvents. Doctors are prescribing cannabis [Edited under our comment moderation policy]. [But] No education is being provided to the end user about how to use the plant as medicine, it is simply prescribed as a drug.

    Cannabis grown at home requires no solvents; it requires no dangerous chemicals, it is completely organic. Making any other pharmaceutically prescribed medicine at home requires solvents and dangerous chemicals and is not organic. This is the major difference between cannabis medicine and all others. It is a pure plant medicine.

    The real danger is that the public believe that the pharmaceutical companies know how to grow and use cannabis as a medicine. They may well do, but they certainly don’t create medicines from cannabis, they only create controlled substances, a.k.a drugs. It is up to the end-user to use the substances as a medicine.

    The poison is in the dose, not the substance. Education is key.