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medicinal cannabis

Medicinal Cannabis Products

Full spectrum v isolates
The cannabis plant contains more than 100 active compounds which can affect the functioning of our bodies. Medicinal cannabis products can differ depending on whether they contain the full spectrum of compounds from the plant, or whether they contain a purified isolate:

Isolates – e.g. CBD isolate, contain only the CBD element of the plant.

Full spectrum products – e.g. a balanced oil, contain all of the elements of the cannabis plant in varying concentrations.

Because many of the natural chemicals within cannabis work together to produce a therapeutic effect, full spectrum products are generally thought to be more effective for many conditions


The 2 main components of the cannabis plant which have been most extensively studied are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC ( 9-tetrahydrocannabidiol). Products vary in the relative concentrations of these two ingredients. One of the important aspects of prescribing is in achieving the correct ratio:


Not psychoactive/non-sedating
Safe for driving

Potential uses include:
Inflammatory pain


Psychoactive and potentially sedating
Prohibits driving

Potential uses include:
Chronic nerve pain
Cancer pain
Sleep disorders
Muscle spasms

CBD and THC can work well together. The addition of CBD can reduce the sedation and some of the other adverse effects of THC.

Oils, Capsules and Flowers

Within Australia, medicinal cannabis is most commonly given in an oil or a flower form.

Cannabis oil pic


are taken orally and are usually dosed 2-3 times daily. The effects come on within 1-2 hours and can last for around 8 hours. They are used the most commonly prescribed preparation.


work in a similar way to oils. They can be more convenient to carry around and can be taken more discretely. The onset time is usually slower than oils because the capsule has to break down within the gastrointestinal tract before the active ingredients can be absorbed.


need to be heated in a vaporiser and then inhaled. They produce therapeutic effects which come on within a few minutes, but wear off after 1-2 hours. They can be useful in palliative care, or for management “break though” pain or for other situations when a rapid onset is required.

Side effects

Most patients are able to take medicinal cannabis without many significant adverse effects. Side effects will vary depending on the type of preparation and the dose, but a few common side effects are listed below:

Increased heart rate
Impaired coordination
Impaired short-term memory
Dry mouth

Possible adverse effects will be discussed in more detail during your consultation.

Driving and medicinal cannabis

Unlike alcohol, for which a maximum blood concentration is stipulated, there is no legally permitted concentration of THC for driving in Australia. Under current legislation, driving with any TCH detectable within the body is a criminal offence, even at concentrations low enough to cause no significant impairment. Having a prescription for medicinal cannabis is of no legal defence in driving charges.

The length of time THC is detectable within the blood stream after dosing can vary significantly depending on the dose taken, the type of formulation and your body’s metabolism.

Hence, we would recommend that all patients taking medicinal cannabis (with the exception of CBD isolates containing no THC) refrain from driving during their treatment. Your doctor will discuss this further during your CBD consultation in Australia.

driving and medicinal cannabis
dosing guidelines

Dosing guidelines

Dosing of medicinal cannabis can be complicated for several reasons:

  1. Cannabis can interact with other medications – hence your doctor will discuss your existing treatment in detail during the consultation.
  2. The effective dose will vary according to your body size, metabolism and the condition being treated.
  3. There is some evidence to suggest that for certain formulations, lower doses may actually be more effective than higher doses – what we call an “n-shaped dose curve”

Hence, the usual rule we follow with cannabis dosing is to START LOW AND GO SLOW, meaning a low initial dose and as slow increase over at least 2 weeks.

Our doctors will provide details dosing instructions for any medication they prescribe.