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Australian Rural Doctors are Preparing for Medicinal Cannabis

Australian Rural Doctors are Preparing for Medicinal Cannabis
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Clearing up confusion regarding medical cannabis will be a key topic at the upcoming Rural Medicine Australia (RMA17) conference in Melbourne.

RMA17 is a Rural Doctors Association of Australia event running from October 18 to October 21. The conference features a session delving into recent regulatory changes concerning medicinal cannabis along with other clinical and prescription issues in order to help prepare doctors for working with new legislation.

“The use of medicinal cannabis has generated a lot of community interest. We know our delegates will be keen to engage with the experts on this topic,” said Dr Ewen McPhee, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA).  “Through our session at RMA17, we hope to provide doctors with the tools and information they need to give accurate advice and ensure their practice remains compliant with any relevant legislation.”

Last week, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia called for more to be done to prepare GP’s for medicinal cannabis. Dr. McPhee said rural GPs need to be able to adequately counsel patients and get “beyond the hype”.

“GPs in the country have to be a jack-of-all-trades. Not only do they have to be their GP they have to be their specialist as well,” stated Dr. McPhee. “So [rural] doctors have a higher level of responsibility and a higher level of required knowledge to be able to prescribe and manage these things.”

It should be noted that legislation will not permit GPs in Australia to prescribe medical cannabis directly. A GP will need to refer a patient to a relevant medical specialist, and this along with other red tape will present a significant hurdle to Australian patients – particularly those living in rural areas.

Formed in 1991, the RDAA is a national body representing the interests of rural medical practitioners across Australia. RMA17 is the first time the issue of medicinal cannabis has popped up on the public areas of the RDAA’s web site and to date, the Association appears to have been generally quiet on the topic.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation representing urban and rural practitioners, released a position statement on medical cannabis last year. It stated further research was warranted to clarify what it said were “the uncertainties of the relative efficacy and safety of medical cannabis products.”

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