Medicinal cannabis information for providers
We fund medicinal cannabis in line with our medicinal cannabis framework. We decide this on a case-by-case basis. This page explains how you can apply for approval and prescriptions for our clients.
If you’re a member of the veteran community, go to Medicinal cannabis for veterans.
On this page
Who we can fund
We can consider funding medicinal cannabis applications through the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) if both of the following apply:
- Your patient holds a Veteran Card that covers treatment for the relevant condition.
- Evidence-based standard treatments have been undertaken for your patient’s relevant condition, and have not been effective.
Gold Cards and Orange Cards cover RPBS prescriptions for all conditions. If the client has a White Card and you need to confirm whether it covers the condition to be treated, you can phone us on 1800 552 580.Back to top
How the application process works
There is a two tiered process for applying for medicinal cannabis to be funded through the RPBS.
- If the request meets all 3 of the criteria for tier 1, the client’s treating medical practitioner can apply over the phone.
- Other requests fit into tier 2 and need to be in writing using Form D9403 Medicinal Cannabis Tier 2 Application. This will need to include a written assessment from a relevant treating non-GP specialist, confirming that medicinal cannabis would clinically benefit the patient.
Medicinal Cannabis Framework 2-tier classification
Use this table to work out which tier you will need to apply through.
|Criteria||Tier 1||Tier 2|
|Number of products||The client is receiving a maximum of 2 products at any one time.||The client is receiving 3 or more products at any one time.|
|Total THC dosage||The client is receiving any product or products containing the equivalent, or less, of a total 40 mg per day of THC, or no THC.||The client is receiving any product or products that contain a total of over 40 mg per day of THC.|
|Health conditions - refer to list below||For these health conditions where we have already established that the treatment is supported under our framework.||
For these health conditions where we have already established that the treatment is supported under our framework and where either of the tier 2 circumstances above exist.
For other health conditions not listed below where the application would need to include evidence to support efficacy of the proposed treatment.
Under our framework, because of the existing level of evidence already available, we will consider funding medicinal cannabis without requesting evidence of efficacy for any of the following health conditions:
- chronic pain
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- palliative care indications
- anorexia and wasting associated with chronic illness such as cancer
- spasticity from neurological conditions
- refractory paediatric epilepsy.
What we need for all applications
For every request, we can only consider funding medicinal cannabis once we’re satisfied that all of the following conditions apply:
- We have an existing liability to treat the medical condition, such as for Gold Card holders, for Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC) and for accepted conditions.
- The amount of cannabis taken is determined by clinical need and outlined to us.
- The treatment is supported by several high quality scientific studies with very few or no credible opposing findings that it is effective in treating the condition.
- Prescription and treatment is consistent with Australian peak professional bodies’ clinical protocols and guidelines when issued or updated, as accepted by us.
- The client has tried evidence-based standard treatments for the condition (if available and appropriate), and those treatments have failed.
As the treating medical practitioner, you also need to confirm the following:
- Medicinal cannabis is clinically indicated and may benefit the patient.
- You have obtained all relevant state or territory and Commonwealth approvals, including Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) authorisations, in order to write the prescription.
- You have advised the patient of potential contraindications.
- A suicide and mental health assessment has been completed in relation to medicinal cannabis, and there is no increased risk from medicinal cannabis on suicide ideation or mental health.
- The patient has no current substance use disorder and has low risk for substance use disorder.
When we can't approve funding
We cannot approve funding for medicinal cannabis when any of the following apply:
- The efficacy of medicinal cannabis treatment for the health condition is not supported by several high quality scientific studies, such as treatment for a mental health condition.
- There is high quality evidence the treatment may not be effective or safe, or may cause harm.
- The client does not have a Veteran Card that covers the condition to be treated.
- The application falls under tier 2, and the relevant treating non-GP specialist has not provided a written assessment supporting the prescription of medicinal cannabis.
How to apply through tier 1
Once you have assessed that the treatment you are requesting meets all 3 of the tier 1 criteria, you can call our Veterans’ Affairs Pharmaceutical Advisory Centre (VAPAC) team on 1800 552 580.
See What we need for all applications for what we will ask you.
If we approve the request, we will help you arrange an authority prescription over the phone.Back to top
How to apply through tier 2
For tier 2 applications, you need to apply in writing using Form D9403 Medicinal Cannabis Tier 2 Application.
You will need to include a written assessment from the relevant treating non-GP specialist that medicinal cannabis would clinically benefit the patient.
If we approve the tier 2 request, we’ll let you know and you can phone VAPAC to arrange an authority prescription.
Interim tier 1 products pending tier 2 approval
We may be able to fund up to 2 products per the tier 1 criteria while you are preparing or we are processing your tier 2 application.
This only applies to the first tier 2 funding application for medicinal cannabis for each client.Back to top
How to arrange an authority prescription
If you phone us to request approval for a tier 1 application, we can arrange an RPBS authority prescription during the same call.
If we approve a tier 2 application, we’ll send you a notification to call us to arrange the authority prescription.
Once we have approved funding, the treating doctor needs to call VAPAC on 1800 552 580 to arrange an authority prescription through the RPBS.
When you call, you’ll need to provide the following product details:
- brand and generic composition
- strength/ratio and formulation type
- TGA category
- pack size
- current daily dose
- quantity of packs required for up to one month supply
- quantity of repeats for Schedule 4 (TGA Category 1) products.
Any pharmacy that can dispense RPBS items at the concession rate can supply the prescribed medicinal cannabis products.
The client will need to pay the pharmacy the concessional co-payment of $7.30 each time the prescription is dispensed.Back to top
To contact us about funding for medicinal cannabis products you can:
- phone the VAPAC team on 1800 552 580
- email ppo [at] dva.gov.au
Your feedback helps us deliver quality service to veterans and families. Read more about complaints, compliments and other feedback.
Other health bodies can also benefit from your input. To give feedback about:
- medicine quality or safety, contact Therapeutic Goods Administration
- pharmacists, contact AHPRA Pharmacy Board
- other health professionals, contact AHPRA
Personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988. Personal information may be collected by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) for the delivery of government programs for war veterans, members of the Australian Defence Force, members of the Australian Federal Police and their dependents.Back to top