Medicinal cannabis should be more easily available, says GP

Dr Teresa Towpik: The Katoomba GP is a supporter of the use of medicinal cannabis as a safe and effective alternative to opioids.
Dr Teresa Towpik: The Katoomba GP is a supporter of the use of medicinal cannabis as a safe and effective alternative to opioids.

Katoomba GP, Teresa Towpik, is singing the praises of medicinal cannabis.

“About a year ago I used to hold very, very biased and limited views on cannabis,” she said, describing herself as almost “brainwashed” by prevailing attitudes to the subject.

She thought it was dangerous and addictive and in her mind equivalent to heroin.

But when she started to investigate more closely, her views changed.

“I started reading and researching and became quite fascinated by the possibilities,” she said.

This weekend (May 27-28), Dr Towpik will be a guest speaker at the Hemp Health and Innovation expo and symposium at Rosehill Gardens. The expo gathers together doctors, activists, thinkers, scientists, farmers, business leaders and patients from all around Australia and the world to learn more about hemp products.

Dr Towpik wants to encourage other doctors to think of medicinal cannabis. She also thinks there should be networks between growers, doctors and pharmacists to ensure the quality of the products that are prescribed to patients suffering pain.

She is also urging authorities to streamline the process. While doctors can prescribe medicinal cannabis at the moment, to do so involves very complicated and lengthy permissions and form-filling, involving approval from the TGA and other requirements.

“It’s long and very daunting,” Dr Towpik said. “I think the process should be simplified.”

As a GP for more than 30 years, Dr Towpik has prescribed thousands of drugs for patients, many of them opioids which can have severe side effects, she said. 

Her research into cannabis has led her to believe it could be a much better form of pain relief.

“I would like to encourage other GPs and other doctors to embrace it,” she said. “For so much pain I think it would really be a good option for patients instead of using opioids. It’s safe and could help patients in a much better way than we are currently using.”

Dr Towpik realises that her views may not be universally supported across the community but feels very strongly about the potential benefits.

“I’m basically sticking my head up,” she said.

More details: www.hhiexpo.com.au/.