Port Pirie identity Dianah Mieglich attended a Medical Cannabis Course at the University of South Australia in Adelaide.
She said the course was presented by Associate Professor Dr David Caldicott who is an emergency consultant at the Calvary Hospital in Canberra and a clinical senior lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at the Australian National University.
The course was conducted in the Alan Scott Auditorium. It was designed by health care practitioners and for health care practitioners.
The full-day program was attended by medical professionals and health consumers as well as Upper House parliamentarians Tammy Franks and Kelly Vincent.
“The comprehensive course covered many modules. The day started with the long history of cannabis across the ages and its use in medicine, the more recent era of prohibition and fast forwarded to present day where, in South Australia and Australia, medical cannabis is legal, but patient access pathways are complicated and tied up in bureaucratic red tape,” Ms Mieglich said.
“The afternoon’s lecture focussed on dosing and the treatment options across an array of conditions including pain.
“Pain costs $55 billion yearly. Prescription opiates are the number one cause of deaths from prescribed drugs. Medical cannabis offers a safer and more a cost-effective solution.”
Ms Vincent said that "while no treatment can be a panacea, cannabis offers a more safe and effective option for money".
Ben Fitzsimons, co-founder of WeCann Australia, was impressed with the range of great questions from doctors in the auditorium which showed there was a group of general practitioners (who Dr Caldicott argues are specialists in their own right) and specialists looking for options for their patients.
Dr Caldicott said that the course was about “telling the global narrative, in scientific terms, to those who feel they are not getting the whole story”.
Not new to Ms Mieglich, but restated during the day, was reference to those who are opposed to medical cannabis.
“Mostly this stems from people who are unfamiliar with the literature and have confusion about the differences between medical and recreational cannabis,” she said.
“Of course, there are those who are morally opposed to illicit drug use. Medical cannabis is now legal.
“Education really is the key. A module was dedicated to the endocannabinoid system. Dr Caldicott asked for a show of hands among the medicos in the audience of who had learned about medical cannabis in medical school and not surprisingly not one hand went up.
“This aspect of the lecture was incredibly powerful and it was interesting to see the body language of the audience shift in a positive way, almost leaning in to absorb the new knowledge.
“Until medical students and health care providers can access sound and up-to-date knowledge about cannabis and its benefits in treating myriad conditions, then health consumers are being locked out of significant opportunities to improve well-being and for doctors to achieve better health outcomes for their patients.”
She believes that the health economics of medical cannabis should be investigated by both the state and federal governments, particularly with the aging population.
“There are immense savings to be had in our every growing health budget and in better health,” Ms Mieglich said.
She called on the state government to offer an amnesty for those using illicit products until whole-plant medical cannabis is accessible and affordable.
WeCann Australia, founded in South Australia, has positioned itself as the major player in the medical cannabis market.