What is medicinal cannabis?

An exciting, emerging field of prescription medicine

The term ‘medicinal cannabis products’ refers to a wide range of TGA-approved, high-quality cannabis preparations intended for human therapeutic use. These can be in the form of capsules, oils, or dried flowers. These products are not the same as illegal ‘recreational cannabis.’

How is medicinal cannabis different to the illegal stuff?

It all has to do with the biological components found in the plant and how they interact with our bodies.

The main components of medicinal cannabis (THC and CBD) interact with our endocannabinoid receptor systems. Endocannabinoids and their receptors can be found in our brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. When a person consumes cannabis, the cannabinoids bind to the endocannabinoid receptors in our central nervous system. Immune function, inflammation, appetite, metabolism and energy homoeostasis, cardiovascular function, digestion, bone development and density, synaptic plasticity and learning, pain, reproduction, psychiatric disease, psychomotor behaviour, memory, wake/sleep cycles, and the regulation of stress and emotional states can all be affected by these interactions.

What are the different types of medicinal cannabis?


The cannabinoid most closely associated with cannabis, is responsible for the psychoactivity that many people experience when using it. THC has been linked to immune system regulation, as well as the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of medicinal cannabis, according to research.


CBD is a cannabis compound with numerous potential medical benefits and the ability to counteract THC’s psychoactivity. CBD has been linked to anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, anti-nausea, anti-psychotic, and/or anti-convulsive effects without lethargy or dysphoria, according to research.


Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants and herbs such as cannabis. They are responsible for each strain’s distinct aroma profile and are thought to have a variety of therapeutic benefits when combined with THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

Is medicinal cannabis safe?

The majority of evidence on cannabis’s potential long-term negative effects is related to recreational use of illicit, highly variable, unregulated, low-quality cannabis. Pesticides, heavy metals, and other harmful contaminants may be present in these products. They are also likely to be consumed through smoking, with no qualified medical supervision provided by a suitably trained GP.

Medical cannabis enables patients to control the dose and which cannabinoids they are using. This makes it a potentially safer option in some cases. With no risk of addiction or overdose and only mild potential side effects. Of course, the severity of these side effects varies depending on the type and dose of medicinal cannabis product used, as well as individuals’ sensitivity to cannabinoids.

The following are the most common side effects:

  • Drowsiness/fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Cognitive effects

These generally subside within a few hours of dosage, with no ongoing repercussions.

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