Tasmanian GPs are able to prescribe medicinal cannabis from today after premier Peter Gutwein announced significant changes to the state’s Controlled Access Scheme in March.

However, Tasmanian newspaper The Advocate reports some healthcare professionals remain unconvinced and are urging a cautious approach to prescribing the treatment.

Dr Tim Jackson: ‘vast majority of patients will not benefit from medicinal cannabis’

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners state chair Tim Jackson said more clinical evidence of efficacy is needed before medicinal cannabis can be prescribed for chronic, non-cancer pain and warned doctors would not prescribe it as a first line of treatment.

He said: “If patients are thinking this is a panacea for everything they will be very disappointed. There may be a few patients who benefit from it, but the vast majority will not.”

“As recently as last month the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and Faculty of Pain Medicine said we should not be using this for chronic, non-cancer pain unless it is part of a trial.

“Like any treatment we have to be able to put our hand on our hearts, weigh up the pros and cons for our patients, and be really sure that these treatments will not cause them any harm.”

Despite Tasmania being the only jurisdiction in Australia that has a legal medical defence for prescribed medication, including medicinal cannabis, Dr Jackson still warned patients could be breaking the law if they test positive for THC.

“If you are taking medicinal cannabis we have to recommend that you don’t drive,” he added.