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Medical Cannabis Doctors in Adelaide – Access, Eligibility & Regulations in South Australia

Quick Summary

  • Lawful medical cannabis in South Australia can only be obtained with a prescription from a doctor. It is unlawful to grow your own for medicinal purposes.

  • Patients in Adelaide and South Australia use medical cannabis treatment to help with a wide range of conditions. The most common conditions according to SAS-B TGA approvals are chronic pain, anxiety and insomnia.

  • Regulated, legal medical cannabis products are tested for quality, safety and consistency while black market products are often mislabeled and can contain harmful impurities.

  • Increasing competition has made legal cannabis products cheaper if not the same price as black-market products.

  • Finding a medical cannabis doctor in Adelaide can seem difficult. If your regular doctor is unwilling to prescribe, you can do our quick eligibility test and book in directly with one of our Adelaide doctors.

Is Medical Cannabis Legal in South Australia?

Accessing medical cannabis in Adelaide and regional South Australia has been legal since 2016. Access is regulated by the TGA and SA Health. Similar to other states, any type of doctor in South Australia can prescribe medicinal cannabis for any patient with any condition if they believe it is clinically appropriate and have obtained the required approvals.

In South Australia, medical cannabis (including CBD oil) is only available as a prescription from a doctor. If your local doctor is not willing to prescribe you can book an appointment with one of our Adelaide medical cannabis doctors here. To help improve accessibility we offer telehealth (phone & video) consultations to patients located in South Australia.

Can I Grow My Own Medicinal Cannabis Legally in South Australia?

South Australians are not permitted to grow their own cannabis for medicinal use, even if they have been prescribed medical cannabis by a doctor.

Canberra is the only state where personal cannabis cultivation is legal. It remains illegal for Australians to grow cannabis for personal use. This responsibility is solely reserved for commercial organizations with a cultivation and manufacture license and a permit granted under the Commonwealth licensing scheme for medicinal use.

Difference Between Legal Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana

Legal medical marijuana is very different to recreational black-market marijuana. Legal medical cannabis products are tested by regulatory authorities to ensure quality control. These products must abide by strict quality standards that test for molds, bacteria, fungus, toxins, heavy metals, and pesticides.

Black market marijuana will vary in strength from batch to batch, making finding your ideal dose very difficult. Considering many legal medical cannabis products are now cheaper than black market, it makes little sense to go the black-market route. You can check your eligibility via our quick medical cannabis eligibility form.

What is the Special Access Scheme for South Australians?

Medical cannabis products in South Australia are generally not listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. This means that your doctor will need to apply to the TGA for a special permit before writing a medical cannabis prescription.

The doctor needs to apply for a permit for each product prescribed so there can be quite a lot of paperwork involved. Many SA medical cannabis patients find they need to trial a few different products to find the best one for them.

Authorized Prescribers in Adelaide, South Australia

Some medical cannabis doctors in Adelaide have applied to be Authorized Prescribers for certain medical cannabis products. This means they don’t need TGA approval each time they write a medical cannabis prescription.

However, the authority is based on each product so it may be the case that if you need a prescription for a medical cannabis product for which the doctor is not an Authorized Prescriber, they will still need to apply for a SAS B approval permit.

What Medical Cannabis Products Are Available to Prescribe in South Australia?

Medical cannabis products in SA fall under either Schedule 4 (CBD only) or Schedule 8 (CBD + THC). Similar to other Schedule 8 products, medical cannabis S8 products require a separate SA Schedule 8 treatment permit.

There are now over 150 different medical cannabis products available for prescription in South Australia. The wide range includes oils, flower (for vaping), capsules and oral sprays. The products fall under 3 general categories:

  • CBD products (containing mostly CBD)

  • Balanced (containing equal parts CBD and THC)

  • THC products (containing mostly THC)

The doctor will be able to tell you which product is best suited for your condition. Generally, patients may need to try more than one product and dosage to find their ideal therapeutic effect.

What Medical Conditions Can Medical Cannabis Be Used for in South Australia?

A common misconception is that medical cannabis is only available to SA patients with specific conditions (i.e., Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy etc.) This is incorrect. There is no list of eligible conditions and the TGA will consider any condition that has not responded to conventional treatment. The only condition is that medical cannabis in South Australia is not a first line treatment and patients have tried at least one prescription medication before being eligible.

The list of conditions that the TGA have approved on a case-by-case basis for medical cannabis is long and includes:

Epilepsy / Seizure management, ADHD symptoms, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, Glaucoma, Anorexia, Insomnia, Anxiety, Ischemia Arthritis, Migraines, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptoms, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuropathic pain, Cancer Pain, Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), Parkinson’s Disease, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, Chronic pain, Neuropathy, Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, Dementia, PTSD, Depression, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sleep disorders, Endometriosis, Spasticity from neurological conditions, Epilepsy and Tremors.

This is not an exhaustive list and new conditions are always being approved. The most common reasons we see people using medical cannabis in the clinic are for all types of chronic pain as well as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. A systematic review of the clinical evidence conducted to date is available here.

Can I Drive While Being Treated with Medical Cannabis in South Australia?

This depends on what formulation you are prescribed by your medical cannabis doctor. Patients taking CBD only formulations (that don’t contain any THC) can lawfully drive, as long as they are not impaired.

However, if your medication contains any THC, then it is illegal to drive as you will most likely have traces of THC in your system long after you’ve medicated.

Where Do I Get My Medical Cannabis Prescription Filled in South Australia?

Any pharmacy is allowed to dispense medical cannabis in South Australia. However most pharmacies are not familiar with the process or the medication. Some pharmacies may refuse to fill your cannabis prescription. Some may charge outrageous prices for the hassle.

We advise patients at our clinic to use our preferred pharmacy. This ensures patients will have access to a knowledgeable pharmacist trained and experienced in cannabis medicine who can provide appropriate counseling. Scripts will also be filled much faster, without confusion and no chance of getting ripped off with outrageous markups.

What Is the Cost of Medicinal Cannabis in South Australia?

The amount patients spend on medical cannabis in South Australia is highly variable. The cost depends on their condition and the product/formulation they are prescribed.

With certain types of pain for example, balanced products containing both CBD and THC are ‘stronger’ than CBD only products. SA patients using balanced products in this case will typically spend less than patients trying to achieve the same results with CBD only.

Medical cannabis products are not listed on the PBS, so patients have to pay out of pocket. However, more and more health insurance plans are starting to include coverage so check with your plan if you have one.

Medical cannabis is a very personalized medication and patients will need to work with the doctor to find their ideal formulation and dose. When looking at averages, most patients in SA pay between $4 – $8 per day for their medication – roughly the same as two cups of coffee.

Many Australians are still sourcing their medical cannabis from the “green” market as medical cannabis is perceived to be expensive. Although these days the price of legal, regulated cannabis is on par or cheaper than illegal, unregulated “green” market products.

The recent CAMS-18 survey reports that patients sourcing from the “green” market spend about the same as legal medical cannabis patients using the legal route.

Are Medical Cannabis Products in SA Covered Under the PBS?

Unfortunately, being unregistered medicines, medicinal cannabis products are not currently subsidized under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Medical cannabis products would need to be listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) before they can be considered for PBS subsidy.

Can I Import a Cannabis Product I Bought Over the Internet to South Australia?

It is illegal to import medicinal cannabis products from overseas or order direct from suppliers without a valid prescription.

Although some CBD suppliers selling to Adelaide patients directly claim they are doing it legally, this is not permitted.

Medical cannabis in South Australia can only be supplied by the pharmacy with a valid doctor’s prescription. Furthermore, black market oils are often mislabeled.

The FDA recently conducted a study on products claiming to have specific amount of CBD. They found more than 55% of products had a different amount of CBD than the label and that 49% of the products tested even contained THC!

Can I Bring Medicinal Cannabis into SA From Overseas?

If you are travelling to Australia, you are able to carry up to a 3 months’ supply of medicinal cannabis for yourself or a passenger in your care, provided you have the relevant prescription from a medical practitioner. However, you should confirm this with the Office of Drug Control before travelling.

How Can I Access Medical Cannabis in Adelaide or Regional South Australia?

The best place to start is to speak to your regular doctor. If they feel uncomfortable prescribing, they can refer you to our clinic by filling out and sending back our referral form.

If your regular doctor won’t refer you, you can take our quick eligibility test and book in directly with one of our Adelaide medical cannabis doctors who can help you get started.

Australian Access Clinics has been helping Adelaide and South Australian patients access medical cannabis treatment since 2019.

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