Noosa is set to become the home of one of four new medicinal cannabis clinics and three dispensaries providing support for patients from the Brisbane region through to the Sunshine Coast.
Releaf Clinics are set to open in Caloundra, Noosa, Mooloolaba and Fortitude Valley over the next four months with Caloundra slated to open first in mid-October. Dispensaries will support the clinics at all locations except Mooloolaba.
Founded in 2017, Releaf Group is Australia’s first dedicated clinic and dispensary group formed to simplify the consultation process and access to a range of medicines for patients in need.
Offering a fully integrated health care service, Releaf Clinics are multi-disciplinary, providing a range of services including orthodox medical services, medicinal cannabis prescribing, pharmacy, and a retail shop carrying supplements and health foods.
Releaf Group founder and chief executive officer Gary Mackenzie said expansion into Queensland had been prioritised due to high patient demand.
“We know there are thousands of Queenslanders who are looking for a multi-disciplinary approach to healthcare and we’re pleased we’ll soon be in a position to offer this at our four new clinics,“ he said.
“While our doctors are trained in medicinal cannabis prescribing and our pharmacists are also trained in its use, medicinal cannabis is only one potential therapeutic option for patient health conditions and suitability is assessed on an individual basis in consultation with the doctor.
“Our doctors will need to consider whether a person’s condition could be helped by medicinal cannabis.”
Doctors have been able to supply medicinal cannabis to patients for specific medical conditions since 2016. Amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act permitted both legally-grown cannabis, as well as the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in Australia.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) governs the Special Approval Scheme (SAS), which allows certain health practitioners to access therapeutic goods that are not included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). The SAS provides a pathway for prescribers to access medicinal cannabis for individual patients on a case-by-case basis.
According to figures from the TGA up to 30 June 2021, the TGA has approved over 130,000 SAS Category B applications for unapproved medicinal cannabis products with figures showing a steady monthly increase.
A cancer survivor himself, Mackenzie used CBD oil three years ago and says he preferred it as a “safer”, non-addictive pain management option.
“Studies have shown promising results for a variety of other conditions ranging from sleep disorders to Parkinson’s Disease, severe epilepsy and anxiety, with new research findings emerging almost every day,” Mr Mackenzie said.
Releaf Clinics will be operated by franchisees and according to Michael Zikaras, Releaf’s franchise director, interest has been high in Queensland.
“We’ve had a tremendous number of enquiries from those interested in becoming a Releaf franchisee. They recognise this is a rapidly growing industry and are keen to drive positive health outcomes in the community,” Mr Zikaras said.
“Having multiple sites will empower patients with easier access to consultations, along with multiple points of dispensing.”