A new course has launched to fill the void in cannabis training among medical students.
The Australian Medicinal Cannabis Course Online is the brainchild of United in Compassion director and patient advocate Lucy Haslam and Dr David Caldicott, clinical senior lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at the Australian National University.
Dr Caldicott curated the course content, which is fully independent and aims to redress the situation where it is estimated fewer than 10 per cent of medical students receive any training at all on cannabis medicines during their studies.
The recent Senate inquiry into the accessibility of medicinal cannabis recommended a substantial increase in medical cannabis education for health professionals but no action has been taken to redress the imbalance so far.
A decision on the Senate inquiry’s recommendations is expected in September.
Haslam said: “We accepted long ago that the Australian health workforce lacked education about the medicinal uses of cannabis. That absence of education has been a large part of the reluctance to prescribe by Australian doctors and contributes to the large number of patients remaining reliant on the illicit market and all the problems and vulnerability that situation creates.”
According to a recent study published in the Harm Reduction Journal, more than 95 per cent of medical cannabis patients are still using the black market to access cannabis medicines despite an increasing number who have received prescriptions to buy them legally.
Haslam added: “It’s important for Australia to have a truly independent course, not associated or funded by industry and written for Australian doctors by an Australian doctor. Our experience has shown us that those doctors who do show the initiative to become educated soon become strong advocates for prescribing this age-old medication.”