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Cannabis-based medicines general information

This page is intended to educate and provide general information on medicinal cannabis and its use for medical reasons when conventional therapies have failed, the human endocannabinoid system and its interaction with cannabinoids, and how to access unregistered products.

Medlab has created a cannabis-based medication, NanoCBD™, that is currently under investigation. If you’re wondering whether this cannabis-based medicine might be right for your condition, your first step is to have a conversation with your doctor or book an appointment for a screening consultation to evaluate if you are an eligible patient. 

Book an appointment for a screening consultation

Joseph has achieved a Bachelor of Medical Science at the University of Technology Sydney and a Masters of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney. He has been a registered Pharmacist for over 10 years, having worked as a Hospital Clinical Pharmacist and a Medical Information Associate in Pharmaceuticals.

Joseph also currently works as a Community Pharmacist. His focus and passion are to provide empathetic, accurate and concise education to patients and healthcare professionals whilst maintaining and updating his medical knowledge.


Human Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a very important role in maintaining homeostasis in the human body. It is ubiquitous throughout our bodies. To begin with, it is a retrograde system functioning post- to pre-synapse, allowing it to be a “master regulator” in the body. Secondly, it has a very wide scope of influence due to an abundance of cannabinoid receptors located anywhere from immune cells to neurons. Finally, cannabinoids are rapidly synthesized and degraded, so they do not stay in the body for very long in high amounts, possibly enabling cannabinoid therapy to be a safer alternative to opioids or benzodiazepines.

We have (at least) two types of cannabinoid receptors:

  • CB1 which is in the central nervous system (brain and nerves of the spinal cord)
  • CB2 which is in the peripheral nervous system (nerves in your extremities), the digestive system, and specialized cells in the immune system.

Through these receptors, the ECS helps to regulate functions like appetite, inflammation, and pain!1


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that trigger cannabinoid (and other) receptors found in the endocannabinoid system. The cannabis plant produces over 100 different cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).2

Why medicinal cannabis?

There are many conditions that are under-treated with conventional medication. For example, chronic pain. According to pain Australia, 3.37 million Australians live with chronic pain in 2020. For the majority (56%) of Australians living with chronic pain, their pain restricts what activities they can undertake.3

Opioids are a class of medicines taken to help reduce pain. They work on the central nervous system to slow down nerve signals between the brain and the body.

This can reduce feelings of pain, but opioids may also produce unwanted effects, ranging from constipation to dangerous slowing down of a person’s breathing.
From 1 February 2018, medicines containing codeine will no longer be available to consumers over the counter at pharmacies.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) up scheduled codeine to a Schedule 4 prescription-only drug because of evidence about its safety and effectiveness. Evidence shows that over the counter medicines containing codeine provide little additional benefit in pain relief in comparison to other similar medicines without codeine. Furthermore, codeine can be addictive and with regular use, patients can become dependent on it, leading to misuse and in extreme cases, death. In Australia, there are over 150 codeine related deaths per year. More than half of patients hospitalized due to opioid use are associated with medicines that have been prescribed for pain.4

The Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM) recognises the lack of definitive evidence supporting the long-term effectiveness of opioid analgesics in people experiencing chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) and the substantial evidence for potential harm. 

The FPM recognises that opioids are widely and often inappropriately prescribed for CNCP despite the lack of clear evidence of efficacy5


  1. The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Colorado State University, 111 MRB Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523
  2. What are cannabinoids?, Alcohol and Drug Foundation
  3. Pain Australia
  4. Upscheduling of codeine, RACPG
  5. Statement regarding the use of opioid analgesics in patients with chronic non-cancer pain, FPM ANZA

How to access an unregistered cannabis-based product?

This infographic provides information about how the TGA provides safe and legal access to medicinal cannabis products in appropriate circumstances. TGA has useful resources to help you navigate the special access scheme for the access of unregistered drugs that are currently under investigation. Individual consumers cannot apply to the TGA to obtain access to unapproved medicinal cannabis products. Access can only be arranged through an Australian registered health practitioner. Approval or authorisation is granted on a case-by-case basis. This work is copyrighted and belongs to TGA

TGA infographic - How to access medicinal cannabis


Medlab How to access Medicinal Cannabis

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