Updated Clinical Memorandum: Therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis

The Clinical Memorandum (CM) on Therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis products has been recently updated.

The update is in line with standard College statement and guideline review processes, and was led by the Committee for Evidence-Based Practice and Faculty of Addiction Psychiatry, and informed by consultation with other College committees.

The use of medicinal cannabis is a relatively new treatment which is not well tested in research and is being prescribed to an increasing number of people. As such, there is a need for regular review of the CM to ensure it informs psychiatrists of appropriate use of medicinal cannabis in clinical practice and provides parameters to guide use.

Although the guidance for use in clinical practice remains largely unchanged, the updated CM reflects concerns expressed by members including:

  • that medicinal cannabis is being overprescribed for anxiety and other disorders where there is a lack of evidence for its use, and in circumstances where first line treatments have not been tried.
  • risks of psychosis, and the need for prescribers to ask key questions, including about past psychiatric conditions, particularly when using high potency medicinal cannabis products. 
  • risks associated with smoking medicinal cannabis products.

To support community understanding of medicinal cannabis use, a community information sheet has also been prepared. 

Increased community acceptance of medicinal cannabis use requires a cautionary approach focused on harm minimisation and need for further research to inform use and monitoring of potential impacts.

The College will continue to work with regulatory bodies and other health care providers to ensure that medicinal cannabis is used appropriately. 

For further information please contact policy@ranzcp.org