Before the move to GP approvals in WA, the number of state-approved treatments totalled 876 over three years.

That figure was definitely on the rise, according to Subiaco pharmacist and director of the St Francis Group, David Cooper.

But he warned that his Subiaco clinic was experiencing a significant backlog and seeing a build-up of patients suffering chronic anxiety, insomnia and pain going to the black market or the eastern states, particularly for medicinal cannabis that contains THC.

“There is a massive black market for [cannabis oil] and it’s readily available and they can buy it within hours,” he told 6PR’s Gary Adshead on Tuesday.

“Whereas our process does take days to weeks … and the state health process is too heavy-handed and needs to be released, much like what’s happening on the east coast.”

Mr Cooper has called for a review of the WA department’s approvals process, as well as the ability for his pharmacy to compound its own unique cannabis oils using raw ingredients that range from zero to 30 milligrams of THC – the highest class permitted.

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His bid to compound raw ingredients was rejected on the grounds that it would be deemed manufacturing a prohibited substance.

Mr Cooper said WA was out of step with the rest of Australia given Queensland didn’t have the same barriers and was easily prescribing THC-based oils at almost 10 times the volume of WA, despite only having twice the head of population.

To “further rub salt into the wound”, he claimed the health department threatened him with a pharmaceutical audit.

“The West Australian policy is too heavy-handed they’re treating it like an opiate and it just isn’t,” Mr Cooper said on air.

The department has been contacted for comment.

The Australian Medical Association’s WA president Andrew Miller rejected Mr Cooper’s call, saying any backlog for THC prescriptions demonstrated that the correct checks and balances were in place.

“THC has not been shown in any clinical trials as being a particularly useful drug,” he said.

“If they are looking at it from a harm minimisation perspective it needs to be backed with research about why THC is so useful and that’s what drug companies have failed to do.

“Prescription cannabis is not a replacement for the black market and was never intended to be.”

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Little Green Pharma prescriber, Joe Kosterich, disagreed, saying there was plenty of evidence that medicinal cannabis, with varying amounts of the two cannabinoids – CBD and THC – could be helpful for people with post traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses.

He said WA had made great progress over the past 12 months and while prescriptions could be better streamlined like those in New South Wales and Queensland, he did not agree with Mr Cooper’s assessment of the WA system.

“As a prescriber, I can say they will turn around applications in two business days,” Dr Kosterich said.

“Where they do draw a line is dosages above 30 milligrams of THC per day and that’s going to be an issue for some but not most people.

“It’s not a panacea for everybody but it certainly can help.”

Dr Kosterich also said there were plenty of ready-made medicinal cannabis products in the local market already that could satisfy patient needs without privately compounding.

Mr Cooper remained hopeful of getting an audience with either of the major parties about his issue, however, neither responded to the call.

Instead, a new party to Perth’s coming election, the Legalise Cannabis Western Australia Party was more than sympathetic to his cause, with candidate Leo Treasure calling out both parties for failing to lead on the issue.

“The WA public deserves policies as good as those in other states,” he said.

“[Thousands of] vulnerable people suffering from many different ailments will benefit from efficient production and distribution.”

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