The Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis will enable you to confidently prescribe and treat patients with medicinal cannabis in primary care in Australia.
Exploring the new generation of medicine, the online program will help you stay ahead of the curve in managing common conditions in general practice. You will achieve subspecialist knowledge in the applications of medicinal cannabis for ailments including epilepsy, PTSD and cancer symptoms, and gain an advanced understanding of its applications in geriatric and palliative medicine and its uses in mental health and chronic diseases.
At the completion of the program, you will understand the science behind medicinal cannabis and the relevant indications and contraindications so you can make recommendations to the appropriate patients, as well as how to make the Special Access Scheme-B (SAS-B) application on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) online portal, so you can confidently take control of patient care.
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 last stage of the three-part Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis. The education pathway is Professional Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis, Advanced Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis and Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis.
This Professional Diploma 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 last stage of the Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis.
This course is for physicians and degree-qualified medical professionals. The prerequisite for the Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis is the Advanced 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: Geriatric and palliative medicine
This module briefly revisits the history of cannabis use and its legislation in Australia in 2016. Two main cannabinoids are distinguished: THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). The module describes common and rare side effects, results and varied responses of patients to medicinal cannabis. Medicinal cannabis does not work equally for everyone – dosages vary and outcomes are different for each patient. The module describes the use of cannabinoids to relieve pain in patients with malignant diseases compared to placebos. Four case studies demonstrate how medicinal cannabis can be considered for geriatric and palliative care treatment. In conclusion, medicinal cannabis may have a legitimate role for certain patients in certain circumstances and each patient’s management is to be individually considered.
Module 2: Medicinal Cannabis and Epilepsy
This module studies the symptoms of Epilepsy 101, medicinal cannabis treatment options and modes of transmission. Several ways of application are outlined, as well as different products: artisanal preparations, unapproved products and approved medication of purified CBD. Dravet syndrome (DS) is explained, including treatment options, side effects and efficacy are discussed. A section describes Lennoz-Gastautsyndrome (LGS) and reviews research and treatment options including side effects. Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) symptoms are explained and studies and treatment options are discussed. Other potential applications of CBD are outlined including childhood epilepsy, next generation cannabis-based medicines, biosynthesis of cannabinoids in the plant and anticonvulsant effects.
Module 3: PTSD – Treatment in clinical practice
Module 3 assesses the use of medical cannabis for PTSD, including dosage and treatment in clinical practice. It describes what PTSD is and what the signs, symptoms and characteristics are. The conventional treatment of PTSD (e.g. sleeping medications or antidepressant medications), is being compared to the cannabinoid treatment options. The current position of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) on PTSD is that compensation for PTSD treatment with medicinal cannabis is not allowed. However, research into medicinal cannabis is rapidly evolving and DVA will continue to monitor the developing research and published evidence. Two case studies look into symptoms, current medications, treatments using CBD, and provides reviews and results of these studies.
Module 4: Advanced mental health
This module commences with the importance of understanding the science of medicinal cannabis and the role it can play when treating mental health. Advantages and side effects are outlined. When managing complex mental health issues, the module describes treatment and techniques for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe anxiety and depression. PTSD patients, often in military and first-responders frequently utilise medicinal cannabis. A comparison is made between THC-dominant (street cannabis), to CBD-dominant (hemp) or balanced (e.g. nabiximols). The module summarises studies of the use of medicinal cannabis and mental disorders. The module also addresses the use of medicinal cannabis in conjunction with conventional medications, potential toxicities, most common symptoms treated and side-effects. Larger trials on the use of medicinal cannabis for treating mental health are in progress.
Module 5: Cancer: A creative approach – where to beyond symptom relief
This module assesses cancer research for potential treatment with medical cannabis leading to a curative approach that goes beyond symptom relief. The module evaluates treatment options for breast and pancreatic cancer patients with medical cannabis and evaluates the use of medical cannabis to mitigate the side effects of cancer and its treatment. It looks into early diagnosis, treatment, defining and aetiology of cancer as well as defining and targeting the hallmarks of cancer. Clinical and side-effects of CBD and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are listed. Outcomes of studies into cannabinoids in pain management and palliative medicine are included.
Module 6: Treatment resistant patients and patients with high cannabinoid needs
Module 6 is about planning the management of complex chronic disease including poly pharmacy, multiple system disease and evaluate the challenges of effectively integrating cannabis medicines, including liver metabolism considerations and drug interactions. The results of a study into patients with chronic diseases (conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention, long lasting conditions with persistent effects), are included where patients have at least two conditions and were prescribed a minimum of four drugs. When choosing a cannabis product, the preferences of the patient, age and clinical condition are to be considered. The module describes dosing of THC and CBD and minimum/ maximum doses. A case study looks into current medications, past treatments, clinical history, treatment options, progress and life quality.
Module 7: Endocannabinoid support – advanced techniques for maximising ECS efficiency
This module evaluates clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CED) and plan support to maximise the efficiency and function of the endocannabinoid system including diet, supplements terpenes and therapies. Migraine, fibromyalgia, IBS and related conditions display common clinical, biochemical and pathophysiological patterns that suggest an underlying clinical endocannabinoid deficiency that may be suitably treated with cannabinoid medicines. This module concludes that the adverse effects of UCMS-transferred microbiota were alleviated by selectively enhancing the central ECB or by complementation with a strain of the Lactobacilli genus. The findings provide a mechanistic scenario for how chronic stress, diet and gut microbiota generate a pathological feed-forward loop that contributes to despair behaviour via the central ECS. Finally, a case study of a patient with a long history of migraine headaches, insomnia and anxiety is described, looking at past treatments and treatment options.
Module 8: Complex chronic disease
This module looks at the planning of clinical treatment and dosing for conditions with medicinal cannabis. General rules of dosing with cannabis medicines are given, noting that doses of cannabis medicines should be administered with consistency and regularity. Minimal doses that are clinically effective should be a principle aim. Each person is individual in their response to cannabis medicines. Patient age and previous cannabis use/ experience must be taken into consideration. Initially, conventional medications should be maintained at current dosing rates. Cannabis medications should be titrated slowly and conventional medications reduced as symptoms lessen. Treating of rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, headaches and migraine, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s (tremor and dystonia), Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, anxiety and depression, insomnia, PTSD, epilepsy, ASD, ADHD, OCD and Tourette's, diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma, geriatric/palliative care and complex mental health issues are reviewed in this module.
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 Joe Kosterich
Doctor, speaker, author, media presenter and health industry consultant
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.
Dr Orit Holtzman
Chief Medical Officer, Compass Lifestyle Clinics
Co-Founder & Vice President, ANZCCP
Dr Orit Holtzman is the Chief Medical Officer of Compass Lifestyle Clinics, where she practises functional and cannabinoid medicine, and the Co-Founder and Vice President of the Australian and New Zealand College of Cannabinoid Practitioners (ANZCCP).
Dr Holtzman 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. She is also a Kresser Institute Trained Practitioner in functional and evolutionary medicine.
After working in the public hospital system, Dr Holtzman has begun exploring holistic health solutions and become passionate about utilising medicinal cannabis as a therapeutic agent. She began prescribing cannabis in 2019, when she joined Compass Lifestyle Clinics. Dr Holtzman has prescribed medicinal cannabis for hundreds of patients for various indications, and is an authorised prescriber for multiple conditions. She is also a sought-after medical educator, teaching doctors about medicinal cannabis and the endocannabinoid system.
Dr Holtzman lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains in NSW with her husband and three children.
The Professional Diploma 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 professional diploma program. 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.
A clinical audit is a mandatory element of this professional diploma. The clinical audit will guide you to reflect on your patient management, prior to and after, increasing your knowledge through your studies at HealthCert. You will need to submit your own cases as part of this audit. If you no longer see any cases in this field, the course offers an early exit point with the Complex Certificate. Reflecting on this process will build your confidence in your ability to better manage patients who will benefit from the use of medicinal cannabis. The clinical audit is separately accredited.
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 a Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis.
RACGP and ACRRM points pending.
This professional Diploma:
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.