People with medical conditions are entitled to proper clinical care which, in an ideal world, would always take cannabis into informed consideration. Sadly, we do not yet live in that world, which is why there are so many Australian cannabis clinics.

For some patients, these clinics are a godsend. Places they can go to be cared for with compassion, by doctors who know their medical history and understand their needs. For others, clinics are simply an access pathway. They already know they want a legal, regulated cannabis product. Doctors and prescriptions are mostly just expensive barriers to their desired outcome, whatever that may be.

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If you want to use a cannabis product, for any reason, I believe you should legally be allowed to do so without needing a prescription. Australians should be allowed to grow their own cannabis, share it with each other, and buy regulated products from stores. If someone with a serious medical condition wants to use cannabis for medical purposes without it being prescribed by a doctor, I wouldn’t recommend it, but that is their business.

However, if people do pursue the medical route, they should be treated as a medical patient. Regardless of how confident a patient is in their decision about what medicine to take and why, regardless of how inevitable the decision to prescribe a cannabis medicine may be, this is an opportunity to engage with someone about their health.

Cannabiz editor-at-large Rhys Cohen

In my opinion, no-one should be in a position where they inform a medical clinic that they have fibromyalgia and, instead of sitting down with a doctor, are directed to an online store. If someone is experiencing chemotherapy-induced nausea, and they think they want a purified CBD product despite a THC-containing product being more likely to actually help them, I think it is immoral to unquestioningly sell them a CBD product.

I get that this probably makes me seem like a self-righteous wanker. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are hundreds of thousands of Australians using unregulated cannabis for medical purposes, without prescriptions or doctors, and most of them are doing just fine. Not to mention the two million-odd Australians who use cannabis recreationally. And with so many otherwise perfectly healthy people now seeking out CBD, it would be safer for them to use regulated products instead of whatever they can buy from overseas.

Having clinics that operate with as little medical oversight as legally possible is one way to provide consumers with cheap and easy access. And, considering what’s going on in the industry today, it is obvious how we arrived at this point. It can be expensive and time-consuming to educate new doctors about medical cannabis. But it is relatively quick and easy to strike up some commercial arrangement with a clinic.

Product companies are incentivised to continue supporting the clinic model, and clinics are incentivised to cut costs by reducing the need for expensive medical oversight. Consumers are happy because access is increasingly quick and cheap. Patients keep using clinics because their regular doctor still doesn’t know about medical cannabis.