From October 2016, legislation was passed that allows the legal supply of medicinal cannabis products in Australia. However, newly-legalised medicines like cannabis must firstly be tested via clinical trials and approved prior to doctors being allowed to write prescriptions. Since clinical trials can sometimes take years, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) - a government body, offers several interim pathways so patients can access drugs in the meantime.
Currently the TGA’s fastest access pathway for medicinal cannabis is the Special Access Scheme Category B (or SAS B). Under this scheme, a specialist doctor must submit a patient request, after which approval from the TGA is given within 1 to 6 days on a case-by-case basis.
In some Australian states such as QLD, NSW, ACT, SA and WA, approval to prescribe and dispense is also necessary at the State Health Department level.
The CannabisAccess portal was developed to reduce the complexity of this overall process and streamline approvals, product orders and dispensing. The diagram below outlines the end-to-end process:
Part A: Apply for Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval via the Special Access Scheme (SAS B).
Part B: Apply for state approval (NSW,SA,ACT,QLD,WA only).
*Both part A and B can be done concurrently.
Wait for state approval if required.
If state approval applies, the product can only legally be dispensed once state approval is also granted.