The Queensland Government has created a new regulatory framework to allow medicinal cannabis products to be prescribed and dispensed to patients in Queensland and to prevent unauthorised use of these products. This framework has been implemented through the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016(the Act) and the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulation 2017 (the Regulation) which commenced on 1 March 2017.
Under this new framework, a medical specialist or general practitioner (in consultation with a medical specialist) can legally prescribe medicinal cannabis for a patient, including children. Medicinal cannabis will only be medically prescribed in circumstances where all conventional treatments available have failed or cause intolerable side effects. For example, in the case of a child with severe drug resistant epilepsy, a trial of treatment with medicinal cannabis may be considered.
As a result, approved early childhood education and care(ECEC) services can obtain, possess and issue medicinal cannabis that has been prescribed to a child in the care of a service. To enable this to occur staff members may be authorised in writing by the approved provider to administer medicinal cannabis. As medicinal cannabis is classified as an S8 medicine, this means that, provided the medication is stored in accordance with legislative requirements, approved ECEC services would not be in breach of Regulation 82 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations) which requires all services to ensure a tobacco, drug and alcohol-free environment.
If an approved ECEC service has a child who is prescribed medicinal cannabis attending their service there is a requirement for the service to have a medicinal cannabis management plan. Medicinal cannabis management plans must include information such as details about storage and administration, possible risks associated with holding and administering the medicinal cannabis at the service and how the risks would be managed. The requirement to have a medicinal cannabis management plan and detail of what must be included in the plan is prescribed in Chapter 5 of the Act. These requirements are in addition to existing requirements for approved services to have a medical conditions policy and records and procedures for administering medication.
The approved service is also required to notify Queensland Health of their medicinal cannabis management plan. The requirement to have a medicinal cannabis management plan is in addition to current requirements under the National Regulations for approved services to have a medical conditions policy and records and procedures for the administration of medication.