The three-part Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis program explores the therapeutic properties and uses of cannabis, equipping medical practitioners with the comprehensive knowledge required to safely prescribe and treat patients with medicinal cannabis in Australia.
You will learn the medical applications of cannabinoids in general practice as a tool to improve patient outcomes and take a holistic approach to their care. In addition, you will access published studies, peer reviewed research and various learning resources that will help debunk the misinformation and preconceived ideas about CBD and its uses in mainstream medicine.
Exploring the new generation of medicine, the online program will enable you to stay ahead of the curve in managing common conditions in primary care, including pain, anxiety, insomnia, cancer, autoimmune disorders, IBS, autism, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory conditions, skin conditions and many more.
This evidence-based, science-backed program teaches how and why medicinal cannabis works, enabling you to confidently take control of patient care. At the completion of the program, you will understand the science behind medicinal cannabis, the relevant indications and contraindications so you can make recommendations to the appropriate patients, and how to make the Special Access Scheme-B (SAS-B) application on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) online portal.
GPs working in Australia (except for in Tasmania) may prescribe Medicinal Cannabis, however, as part of the guidelines of the TGA SAS-B, you will need to indicate that you have the knowledge necessary to do so. This program will equip you with the knowledge required to manage and prescribe Medicinal Cannabis for various conditions and can serve as part of your documentation showing that you have undertaken education in this field when you decide to become an authorised prescriber. More information here.
This course is the second stage of the three-part Professional Diploma of Medical Cannabis. The education pathway is Professional Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis, Advanced Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis and Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis.
This Advanced Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis is for medical doctors who wish to learn how to improve patient outcomes with medicinal cannabis, especially those patients with conditions commonly seen in general practice. This qualification is the second stage of the Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis.
This course is for physicians and degree-qualified medical professionals. The prerequisite for the Advanced Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis is the Professional Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis (or qualification deemed equivalent). Participants do not have to pass an IELTS test but, as the courses are delivered in English, proficiency in listening, reading and writing English is assumed.
Course participants will:
Module 1: Multiple sclerosis, spasticity, tremor and dystonia
This module examines the role of medicinal cannabis in treating neuro-inflammatory and neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and dystonia syndrome. It explores the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of motor behaviour and the high density of cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system, suggesting that modulating this system may be pertinent in treating motor symptoms such as spasticity, tremor, and dystonia. Medicinal cannabis in the form of an oro-mucosal spray has been shown to be beneficial at reducing spasticity in multiple sclerosis and has been registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for some years. Other medicinal cannabis formulations may also be useful in managing movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and dystonia. This module also reinforces the important role of medicinal cannabis in alleviating non-motor-related symptoms such as depression, pain, insomnia, and anxiety as well as more broadly improving the patient's quality of life.
Module 2: Treatment resistant pain, neuropathic pain, cluster headaches and migraines
Cannabis-based medicine has been used to treat various pain states for centuries. But given the growing challenges in chronic pain management, we have begun to seek a more scientific, evidence-based approach to its use. This module weighs the evidence from significant research, reviews, and clinical trials regarding the use of medicinal cannabis in chronic, neuropathic, and intractable pain. It examines the role of cannabinoids in managing pain as an adjunctive or opioid-sparing therapeutic agent or as a third-line therapy when other treatments have failed. The module also examines medicinal cannabis use in ubiquitous headache disorders, which confer a significant personal and social burden of pain and disability and are also, often inadequately managed by conventional treatments. The module devotes a unit to the practical considerations of medicinal cannabis therapy. It recommends a treatment agreement between doctor and patient and outlines the features it should include such as setting goals, managing expectations, scheduling follow-up, and planning an exit strategy.
Module 3: Autoimmune disorders and inflammatory conditions
This module examines the use of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of autoimmune disorders and inflammatory conditions, particularly rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. These conditions are common, debilitating chronic pain syndromes with serious comorbidities and can impose a considerable personal and social disease burden. The conventional treatments for both conditions are problematic, lacking specificity in fibromyalgia and poor adherence to the pharmacological load. Side effects in rheumatoid arthritis are considered. For both conditions, cannabis and cannabinoids may offer a source of hope for sufferers and their physicians. When other treatment lines have been exhausted, medicinal cannabis may be a reasonable option to reduce pain and comorbidities, support deficient endocannabinoid tone and affect disease progression by modulating autoimmune and inflammatory responses. The module, therefore, provides guidelines for choosing a cannabis product and formulation, managing dosing and titration, and enfolding this into a holistic approach to reducing inflammation.
Module 4: Inflammatory bowel disease – Crohn’s disease
As the incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases rises, medicinal cannabis has been increasingly researched for employment in these diseases, particularly in the symptomatic relief from abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea and an improved sense of well-being. This module examines the role of medicinal cannabis in the management of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. As with many chronic disorders, lifelong therapy is required and the pharmacological load in these conditions can be considerable with unacceptable side effects and only moderate control of symptoms. Given these factors, there is a role for medicinal cannabis; not curative or as a substitute for conventional medications aimed at altering the underlying disease, but for symptom management and improved quality of life. The module takes the form of four case studies, which examine different methods of approaching medicinal cannabis therapy given the relative paucity of specific recommendations for usage. The cases represent four inflammatory bowel states and guide the practitioner through negotiating what is in essence, a very personalised medicine.
Module 5: Autism, ADHD, OCD and tourette's
This module considers the role of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Tourette's syndrome - all of which are encompassed in a wide spectrum of disease states. These neuropsychiatric disorders present a complicated diagnostic area where certain disease states may be comorbidities of another. Indeed, all conditions may exist concurrently with various ratios of each. In each condition, there is some form of dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and associated positive response to cannabis medicine when used to stimulate and support the ECS to facilitate better neurological functioning. Given that these conditions usually commence in childhood, the module discusses protocols and ethical considerations for treating the paediatric population with cannabinoid medicines. Case studies highlight the caution and flexibility required to achieve acceptable results with this highly individualised therapy, including careful, stepwise titration and monitoring with THC, consideration of different chemovars, and frequent communication with patients and carers.
Module 6: Diabetes, glaucoma, hypertension
This module examines the role of medicinal cannabis in type 1 and type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, the comorbidity of glaucoma (secondary to retinopathy) and hypertension, which accelerates the risk and course of cardiovascular and other comorbidities. The module discusses salient evidence and research findings such as the effects of recreational cannabis use in diabetes, the uniquely diverse properties of THCV, and the anti-diabetic effects of Rimonabant. THC, CBD, and minor cannabinoids such as THCV, may be beneficial in the management of diabetes but should be used adjunctively with conventional treatments. Careful monitoring of changes in the diabetic patient's blood sugar is necessary and glycaemic medications altered only if indicated. Cannabinoids may also treat a raft of diabetes-associated conditions such as hypertension and retinopathy. Case studies explore the use of medicinal cannabis for symptoms such as neuropathic pain, insomnia and restless leg syndrome in both cannabis experienced and naive patients as well as possible benefits such as changes in weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
Module 7: Women's health –endometriosis, PMS and osteoporosis
This module examines the endocannabinoid system in the female reproductive tissues and the potential role of medicinal cannabis in women’s health. The symptoms of endometriosis and premenstrual syndrome may be extreme, debilitating and significantly impact the quality of life. Conventional treatments for these conditions are limited, with severe side effects making medicinal cannabis treatment a reasonable option. Conversely, osteoporosis may be asymptomic until fractures profoundly impact the morbidity and mortality of the patient. The module also considers research indicating that endocannabinoid dysregulation is involved in each of these disorders and the potential for activation or suppression of certain receptors with cannabinoids may support healthy endocannabinoid system homeostatic function in women's health. THC and CBD may play a role in modulating pain, reducing inflammation, regulating immune function, rebalancing endocannabinoid tone, enhancing bone healing and regeneration, and treating/preventing age-related and hormone deficiency-related bone loss and osteoporosis. The module guides the practitioner through choosing a cannabis product for these conditions.
Module 8: COPD, asthma, eczema, psoriasis & skin conditions
This module discusses the considerable potential for medicinal cannabis (particularly CBD) to treat skin disorders, particularly those with an inflammatory component. It examines conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, fibrotic disorders (scleroderma), and non-melanoma skin cancer. The endocannabinoid system of the skin maintains cutaneous homeostasis and plays an important role in the regulation of the physiology of the skin, including the hair follicle and the immune system. The dysregulation of this system is linked to a wide variety of dermatological disorders. Research suggests that modulation of the endocannabinoid system could be a promising strategy for the treatment of skin disorders. The module also explores the relatively new area of cannabis support for pulmonary conditions given the bronchodilatory effect of THC and the anti-inflammatory effect of CBD. There is also the potential for endocannabinoid system-mediated immune modulation and anti-inflammatory responses. The module offers guidelines for the treatment of skin and pulmonary conditions with medicinal cannabis including the specific cannabis formulations for topical and inhaled administration.
A/Prof Vicki Kotsirilos
AM, MBBS, FACNEM, FASLM, Awarded Honorary Fellowship of the RACGP
Adjunct Associate Professor, NICM Health Research Institute
Research Committee Member, NICM Health Research Institute
Associate Professor Vicki Kotsirilos AM is a respected general practitioner with over 30 years of clinical experience, integrating evidence-based holistic therapies such as acupuncture, nutritional and herbal medicine with mainstream healthcare.
A/Prof Kotsirilos keeps up to date with the research in these areas culminating in the development of the successful textbook A Guide to Evidence-Based Integrative and Complementary Medicine. She is also a regular writer for Medical Observer, publishing a monthly column on evidence-based Integrative Medicine and circulates research updates for Australian doctors.
A/Prof Kotsirilos holds adjunct associate professorial positions with NICM and La Trobe University's, Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, and formerly with Monash University. She was the founding Chair of the RACGP Integrative Medicine Working group, as well as the founder and Founding Past President of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA).
A/Prof Kotsirilos served as an active board member on AIMA for 20 years, forging positive relations with government and peak medical bodies such as the AMA and RACGP. She has served on many state and federal government committees, such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Complementary Medicine Evaluation Committee (eight years) and as the GP member on the Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee (five years). In addition, A/Prof Kotsirilos served on the Victorian Council of the AMA and for several years worked closely with the Medical Panels, Victorian Workcover. She continues to work for regulatory federal government bodies such as AHPRA.
Prof Marco Falasca
Professor, Metabolism, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Curtin University, Australia
Professor Marco Falasca graduated in Pharmacy and then in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Camerino, Italy. His education further includes a Diploma of Specialisation in Applied Pharmacology at the University of Bari and a FORMEZ Research Award (PhD equivalent) at the Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, Italy. After three years at the New York University Medical Center, Department of Pharmacology (Head Prof Joseph Schlessinger), Prof Falasca took up a position as Head of the Unit of Physiopathology of Cell Signalling within the Consorzio Mario Negri Sud in 1998.
In 2001 he moved to London where he was appointed as Principal Research Fellow, Senior Lecturer within the Department of Medicine at the University College London. In 2007 he was appointed as Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at the Queen Mary University of London. He is currently Professor of Metabolism at Curtin University, Australia. He has published more than 100 papers in reputed journals and has been serving as an editorial board member for several international journals.
The focus of Prof Falasca’s research in the past 25 years has involved the investigation of signalling pathways regulating intracellular physiological and pathological processes. Prof Falasca’s current specific projects are dedicated to the investigation of the mechanisms involved in development and progression of pancreatic diseases.
A/Prof Jonathon Arnold
Deputy Academic Director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, Australia.
Associate Professor Jonathon Arnold is a world leader in the science of cannabis and the cannabinoids. He is Deputy Academic Director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, Australia. This is a cross faculty research initiative that specialises in the discovery and development of cannabis-based medicines. In 2018 he was one of four scientists selected to advise the World Health Organisation (WHO) on their historical review of cannabis and the cannabinoids.
A/Prof Arnold has over 20 years’ experience in cannabinoid pharmacology and has published extensively on the molecular, cellular, neurobiological and behavioural actions of the phytocannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Since 2016 he and his team have conducted epilepsy research to improve the understanding of the anticonvulsant properties of the phytocannabinoids. He recently published a high-profile paper which shed new light on the mode of action of CBD in the treatment of childhood epilepsy (Altmetric 75). This paper received the Epilepsia Brain Science Prize honouring the most significant advance in knowledge in the field of epilepsy in 2019.
Dr Orit Holtzman
Dr Orit Holtzman is a medical doctor with a special interest in functional medicine and medicinal cannabis. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and psychology from the University of Tel Aviv, a PhD in neuroscience from the University of NSW and an MBBS from the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney.
After working in the public hospital system, Dr Holtzman has begun exploring wholistic health solutions and become passionate about utilising medicinal cannabis as a therapeutic agent. She began prescribing cannabis in 2019 under the mentorship of Dr Teresa Towpik, when she joined Compass Lifestyle Clinics. She now has more than 200 patients that have been approved for medicinal cannabis for various indications under her care, and is an authorised prescriber for multiple conditions. She also works as a medical educator, teaching doctors about medicinal cannabis and the endocannabinoid system.
She lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains in NSW with her husband and three children.
Dr Joe Kosterich
Doctor, speaker, author, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Dr Kosterich writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications and is a regular on radio and television. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases, is clinical editor of Medical Forum Magazine, adjunct professor (teaching) at UWA and a lecturer at Curtin Medical School.
Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis company Little Green Pharma and Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association, Dr Kosterich has self-published two books: Dr Joe’s DIY Health and 60 Minutes To Better Health, and maintains a website and blog with health information and commentary.
Previously he held senior positions in the Australian Medical Association and sat on numerous industry and government boards. He has extensive corporate experience in the setting up and management of medical centres and in helping businesses maintain a healthy workforce.
Through all this he continues to see patients as a GP each week.
Dr John Teh
MBBS, Cannabinoid Clinician, Clinical Educator
Medical Director, PlantMed
Dr John Teh is the Medical Director of Plantmed Medical Cannabis Clinic, Australia. He has been working within the Medicinal Cannabis industry since the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use in Australia in February 2016.
Dr Teh is actively involved in Cannabis Medicine education, training medical practitioners and allied health professionals in all areas of cannabinoid therapeutics. He is a medical advisor to various cannabis producers and suppliers within Australia, and consulted the Thailand government prior their introduction of their medicinal cannabis program in 2019.
Dr Teh has vast experience treating a variety of patients with Medical Cannabis and integrates nutrition and plant based medicines which support cannabinoid treatment in his practice. His wealth of knowledge makes him sought after in all areas of cannabis medicine and education.
The Advanced Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis is fully delivered online. Participants can enjoy the flexibility to study at their own pace, in their own time, within their home or office, and on their favourite mobile device. The modules are set up in such a way that participants are not required to be online at specific times but can view and replay the video lectures at their convenience.
The webinars offer the opportunity to join and interact with the presenters online in real-time but can also be viewed later. There are no face-to-face requirements for exams which can be conveniently completed online within three months of the exam opening date. With no travel, accommodation or out-of-office expenses incurred, participants can build critical skills and tailor their career while working in a busy practice or raising a family.
There are eight units in a HealthCert certificate course. The course is delivered over 15 weeks with 12 weeks of teaching followed by three weeks for revision and final examinations. The course includes online presentations from experts in the field followed by patient case discussions and decision-making. There is a final webinar prior to examinations. You will also receive valuable 12 months' web-based support from the speakers and participate in regular online learning sessions with the opportunity to ask any questions you might have as you implement your learning.
The course includes:
In order to meet the requirements of professional and academic learning, the course assessment includes a professional requirement and two online examinations.
The knowledge-based examination is worth 50 per cent and the application-based examination is worth 50 per cent. The overall pass mark is 80 per cent. It is therefore not possible to pass this course on knowledge alone. Knowledge must be successfully applied to patient cases in order to pass the course.HealthCert recommends completion of the assessment at your convenience within three months of the completion of the course (or enrolling in the online course).
Upon successful completion of the exam, course participants will receive an Advanced Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis.
RACGP points pending.
- PDP units: 32 Educational activity, 20 Performance review
This Advanced Certificate:
This online three-part program consists of the Professional Certificate, Advanced Certificate, and Professional Diploma of Medical Cannabis.
Certified clinical attachments pathway
Course graduates may continue their professional development by completing a clinical attachment, which are available on request. These will be on a 1:1 basis providing the opportunity to observe clinical nutrition consultation, planning and decision-making and ask questions of the expert. Clinical attachments are available in Australia.
Postgraduate pathway for Medical Cannabis
A postgraduate pathway is currently being identified. Please check with HealthCert Education Advisors for an update.