Increasing the capacity for GPs and pharmacists to prescribe and dispense medicinal cannabis will not address all the access issues for those living with chronic pain, a patient says.
Jodie Palmer of Perth has been using cannabidiol for the past 12 months to treat a slipped disc in her back, which she says has caused her pain that leaves her doubled over at night.
Ms Palmer responded to part of the Tasmanian Liberals recently announced health policy that promises to increase access and streamline the state's Controlled Access Scheme for medicinal cannabis products.
The Labor Party has not announced its full health policy yet, but has said a Tasmania Action Plan will be revealed in due course.
However, Labor's health spokesperson, former RACGP president and GP Dr Bastian Seidel has previously called for easier access to medicinal cannabis for Tasmanians.
Dr Seidel said the current scheme was not meeting the needs of Tasmanians seeking alternative pain relief for chronic conditions.
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"It's definitely a good step forward, it will help other people to access the products and it will help me if I can access Tasmanian products, rather than having to go through Queensland," she said.
"But access is not the only problem - there are people turning away from medicinal cannabis because of the cost."
Premier Peter Gutwein and Member for Bass Sarah Courtney announced the fully-fledged health policy on Monday, which included the medicinal cannabis promises, if they win the May 1 election.
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The policy states a re-elected Liberal Government will improve Tasmania's Controlled Access Scheme to help increase access to unregistered medicinal cannabis projects.
It also means authorising GPs to prescribe medicinal cannabis and allow more pharmacists to dispense the products.
"We will also move to adopt the national online application pathway and 48 hour authorisation timeframe, with the commencement of the new access scheme to commence from July 1 this year."
Ms Palmer said medicinal cannabis products were expensive, and one way the state government could improve that would be to secure a commitment from the federal government to approve medicinal cannabis for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Launceston GP Jerome Muir Wilson said he hoped to see the state government commit to more training and education for Tasmania's GPs if they were more open to prescribing medicinal cannabis.
"They [the government] need to provide the training and support GPs to upskill if they require them it [medicinal cannabis] so it can be safely done," he said.
Dr Muir Wilson said increasing the number of GPs who could dispense medicinal cannabis could be an opportunity for Tasmania to lead the nation in medical research.
"We need to invest in more evidence-based research into medicinal cannabis, so if this is the case there's an opportunity for Tasmania to take a leading role and create that evidence based research."
Tasmanian Pharmacy Guild president Helen O'Byrne said the announcement from the Liberals was not new.
"It simply aligns us with other jurisdictions," she said.
While it may improve access in the long-term, she said in the short-term medicinal cannabis was still hard to get for patients because not enough GPs were able to prescribe it or had the training to.
Dr Byrne also said the overall health policy didn't have a lot there for pharmacists and would have liked more.