One year since its launch, founder of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians Australian Chapter (SCCAC) Lucy Haslam reflects on the organisation’s first 12 months of operation.

SCCAC was formed on November 4, 2020 as an educational and scientific society of qualified physicians and other professionals dedicated to the promotion, protection and support of cannabis for medical use.

Lucy Haslam - Medical Cannabis Australia - Cannabiz
SCCAC founder Lucy Haslam

It is the officially recognised Australian chapter of the international (US-based) Society of Cannabis Clinicians, a non-profit educational and scientific society of healthcare professionals and allies dedicated to advancing research and disseminating knowledge about medical cannabis. Its formation was the first major project undertaken by the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association (AMCA).

SCCAC adheres to the bylaws of the SCC and shares common goals with other countries’ chapters:

  • Expansion of knowledge on the medical use of cannabis
  • Facilitation of best practice standards for cannabis consultations
  • To study, discuss and make recommendations relating to research, practice and policy in the medical use of cannabis
  • To further the recruitment of medical graduates and able physicians willing to recommend cannabis to patients
  • To maintain and advance the highest possible ideals and service standards in the education, practice and research in the medical use of cannabis

In the past year, SCCAC has built its membership of clinicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, researchers, educators and patients.

It has supported the Drive Change movement and also pushed back on guidance from the Faculty of Pain Medicine at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) for doctors not to prescribe currently available cannabinoid products to treat chronic non-cancer pain unless part of a registered clinical trial, pointing out the faculty’s lack of alignment with other leading authorities such as the TGA and the UK Barnes Review.

Individual members have also lobbied hard on behalf of veteran patients with PTSD who are trying to gain access to medicinal cannabis via the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

SCCAC continues to have a very strong focus on providing education on the endocannabinoid system and best-practice prescribing of medicinal cannabis to interested and mainstream healthcare practitioners, and to reduce much of the stigma still associated with the prescribing and use of medicinal cannabis.

As it moves into its second year, the SCCAC will increase its focus on driving the education of, and wider acceptance by, healthcare practitioners at all levels, especially those with continued bias against the use of medicinal cannabis.

It will also continue with its commitment to ensure high standards are held in healthcare practice and research. Chapter members also look forward to the Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide and the opportunity it provides to make a submission on behalf of our valued veteran patients.