Medical Use of Cannabis (marijuana) Position Statement

In December 2014, the NSW Government established the Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme that provides a mechanism for adults who are terminally ill to register for the use and possession of limited quantities of cannabis for medical use. More information, including registration forms, can be found here.

Cancer Council NSW acknowledges that cannabis may be of medical benefit to cancer patients where conventional treatments are unsuccessful, in the following circumstances:

  • in relieving nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy;
  • as an adjunctive analgesic in patients with moderate to severe pain; and/or
  • as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients experiencing weight loss and   muscle wasting.

Smoking is a particularly harmful route of cannabis (marijuana) administration, largely because carcinogenic substances are inhaled into the lungs.

Synthetic cannabis products, particularly Nabiximols delivered via an oral spray, offer advantages in providing symptom relief without unwanted psychological or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) related effects, as well as being a preferable route of administration for anti-emetic therapy.

Natural and synthetic forms of cannabis are currently illegal in Australia.

Cancer Council NSW supports limited exemptions from criminal prosecution, such as those provided by the Cannabis Cautioning Scheme, for cancer patients who have been certified by an approved medical practitioner as having particular conditions, and who have been counselled by such a practitioner about the risks of smoking cannabis.

Cancer Council NSW supports the current clinical trial of the synthetic cannabis product Nabiximols via oral spray for relieving uncontrolled persistent pain in patients with advanced cancer, part of which is being conducted in Australia.

More information

Cancer Council’s Position Statement – Medical Use of Cannabis (Marijuana)

For information and counselling call 13 11 20 Information and Support .