Letters to the Editor || Dr Michael Gannon, President, Australian Medical Association – Medicinal Cannabis

Medicinal cannabis

Lucy Haslam (Letters, 6 November) appears to be a passionate campaigner, but she is incorrect to claim that the Australian Medical Association opposes medicinal cannabis.

The AMA supports clinical trials and the appropriate use of safe, reliable medicinal cannabis, prescribed and dispensed under clear clinical guidelines.  

We want to see guidelines developed and supported by information sharing and increased training of doctors in prescribing and managing approved medicinal cannabis products.

I understand the desire of Ms Haslam and others to fast-track the use of medicinal cannabis, but if we are to get this right, we must follow the same processes and regulations that apply to all other medical (and surgical) treatments. 

Ms Haslam attributes extraordinary powers to the AMA, that we neither possess nor desire to possess. 

The AMA does not approve or regulate pharmaceutical products or medical treatments. 

We have no say in the work of the wholly independent Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), nor have we sought to block, amend, or change legislation or Government policy on medicinal cannabis.  

As doctors, our role is to ensure patients receive the right medications and treatments, and that we do not rush out and prescribe ‘cures’ until the evidence base has been established.

Medical science is founded on high quality clinical trials and evidence, which is why the AMA supports the medicinal cannabis trials currently underway here and overseas. 

Like Ms Haslam, the AMA wants the right patients to get the right treatment for the right condition. 

We welcome a considered and respectful debate about the merits and benefits of novel treatments. 

However, fanciful, incorrect and spectacularly wrong assertions about the motivations of advocates (some of whom might even be dual citizens) do not contribute to either the public’s understanding of issues like these, or their health.

Dr Michael Gannon

President, Australian Medical Association