- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Pain and cancer
- Managing pain with medicines
- Medicinal use of cannabis
Medicinal use of cannabis
Medicinal cannabis refers to a range of prescribed products that contain the two main active ingredients, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC and CBD are cannabinoids. Other types of cannabinoids include cannabis, which is also known as marijuana, weed and pot.
Cannabinoids are chemicals that act on certain receptors found on cells in our body, including cells in the central nervous system.
There is no evidence that medicinal cannabis can treat cancer.
Research studies have looked at the potential benefits of using medicinal cannabis to relieve symptoms and treatment side effects. There is some evidence that cannabinoids can help people who have found conventional treatment unsuccessful for some symptoms and side effects, e.g. chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
To date, published studies have shown medicinal cannabis to have little effect on appetite, weight, pain or sleep problems. The International Association for the Study of Pain does not endorse the use of medicinal cannabis for pain. Research is continuing in this area.
Cannabis is an illegal substance in Australia. However, the Australian Government allows seriously ill people to access medicinal cannabis for medical reasons.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme allows eligible medical practitioners to apply to import and supply medicinal cannabis products. The laws about access to medicinal cannabis vary between states and territories. These may affect whether you can be prescribed this substance where you live.
For more information about medicinal cannabis, see tga.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis.
Podcast: Managing Cancer Pain
Dr Tim Hucker, Pain Medicine Specialist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Keiron Bradley, Palliative Care Consultant, Bethesda Health Care, WA; A/Prof Anne Burke, Co-Director Psychology, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, President, Australian Pain Society, Statewide Chronic Pain Clinical Network, SA, School of Psychology, The University of Adelaide, SA; Tumelo Dube, Accredited Pain Physiotherapist, Michael J Cousins Pain Management and Research Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicine, Palliative Medicine Specialist, Pain Management Research Institute, The University of Sydney, NSW; Andrew Greig, Consumer; Annette Lindley, Consumer; Prof Melanie Lovell, Palliative Care Specialist HammondCare, Sydney Medical School and The University of Technology Sydney, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Melanie Proper, Pain Management Specialist Nurse Practitioner, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Dr Alison White, Palliative Medicine Specialist and Director of Hospice and Palliative Care Services, St John of God Health Care, WA.
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