Patient access

The NSW Government is strongly committed to an evidence-based approach to the use of all medicines, including the use of cannabis-based medicines. We are working to support appropriately qualified medical practitioners to access legal, safe and effective pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products where they consider this to be an appropriate treatment option for their patients.

On 2 March 2018, the NSW and Commonwealth governments announced a change in the prescribing process in NSW to improve individual patient access to unregistered cannabis medicines by introducing a single application process.

NSW Health will now rely on a single clinical assessment by the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) for unregistered cannabis products in Schedule 8, including those containing delta-9-hydrocannabinol (THC). NSW Health will focus solely on checking the credentials of the prescribing doctor and the patient history. This includes, for example, whether there are any restrictions on the doctor’s ability to prescribe; and the patient is not seeking multiple prescriptions through different doctors. This checking is the same as for other Schedule 8 drugs. 

NSW Health is working with the TGA to implement these changes. A single application form is being developed, with the intention of implementing an online application process in the future.

There is no change to existing arrangements for prescribing cannabidiol products. Approval from the TGA only for Schedule 4 unregistered medicines is needed.

NSW Health has also introduced streamlined processes for registered cannabis medicines. At present the only cannabis product registered as a medicine and marketed in Australia is nabiximols oromucosal spray (Sativex®).