The Professional Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis equips medical practitioners with the knowledge to safely apply cannabis as a medicinal tool for patients with common ailments in primary care.
You will learn about the endocannabinoid system and the properties of THC and CBD; explore the routes of administration, side effects and contraindications of medicinal cannabis; and draw upon real patient cases and common conditions seen in general practice, including chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and cancer.
The evidence-backed, science-based online program teaches how and why medicinal cannabis works, enabling you to provide holistic care and optimal outcomes for your patients.
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 authorized prescriber. More information here.
This course is the first 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.
Entry Requirements and Course Requisites
This Professional 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 first stage of the Professional Diploma of Medicinal Cannabis.
This course is for physicians and degree-qualified medical professionals. There are no prerequisites. 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.
Participants will require access to a computer/laptop, an internet connection and a basic level of technology proficiency to access and navigate the online learning portal.
Professionally recognized qualifications and prior studies may be recognized for entry into this course if the learning outcomes match exactly. Please ask a HealthCert Education Advisor for an individual assessment of your prior qualifications and experience.
- Introduction to the endocannabinoid system
- Exploring THC and CBD
- Routes of administration, side effects and contraindications
- Patient cases and basic ailments
- History of cannabis and medical acceptance
- Chronic pain and medical cannabis
- Anxiety, insomnia and depression
- Cancer symptomatic treatment
Course Participants will:
- Have the opportunity to replay video lectures from medical experts.
- Participate in discussion of patient cases, evaluate and make decisions.
- Receive access to research/readings in the field.
- Participate in course webinars prior to the examinations and ask questions.
- Receive ongoing support post-course through webinars and case review.
- Receive unlimited and ongoing access to free alumni learning resources, video lectures, and discussion forums, as well as invite-only events and special offers after completion of the course.
Module One: History of Cannabis and Medical Acceptance
This module considers the cannabis plant and its rich and colourful history as a psychotropic agent, a commodity, a sacred entity, and a medicine to treat a raft of disorders. Maligned and criminalized in the second half of the 20th century, cannabis is now in a new cycle with a burgeoning and sustained scientific interest in its potential medical uses. The module also outlines the history behind the discovery of different cannabis strains, specific phytocannabinoids (e.g., THC), endocannabinoids (e.g., AEA) and the body’s innate endocannabinoid system, and the myriad of biological processes to which it is linked. Finally, the module looks at the discovery of terpenes, and with it, the so-called entourage effect or the synergism between the multitude of compounds within the whole plant.
Module Two: Introduction to the Endocannabinoid System
This module analyses the homeostatic endocannabinoid system and its broad scope of influence in both health and disease. The endocannabinoid system’s three central instruments are established, the endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes, followed by an analysis of the system’s homeostatic functions, including analgesia, mood, energy balance, and stress coping. Evidence for the relationship between insufficiency or dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system and particular disorders is also discussed. Finally, the module provides an overview of our current understanding of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, and how ongoing research into targeted manipulation of the endocannabinoid system with active cannabinergic compounds may prove therapeutic in numerous pathological conditions.
Module Three: Exploring THC and CBD
This module provides a comprehensive examination of the two main cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD); it distinguishes between their main actions and analyses their synergistic relationship. Given that THC and CBD interact differently within the endocannabinoid system and with other neurotransmitters, the module considers their different therapeutic potential, bioavailability, metabolism, toxicology, and dosing. The module also describes the most up-to-date method of cannabis classification, or chemovars, a method based on chemical composition in order to match a specific profile to a particular treatment. For example, chemovars establish the CBD to THC ratio in a given ‘species’ as well as other cannabinoids involved in whole plant medicine, such as CBG, CBN, and CBC. They also determine the presence of other important constituents, such as a wide variety of terpenes.
Module Four: Routes of Administration, Side Effects and Contra Indications
This module discusses the safe use of medicinal cannabis, outlining the routes of administration, side effects, and contraindications. Cannabinoid pharmacokinetics are also examined, including its absorption following diverse administration routes, metabolism by different tissues and organs, bioavailability and elimination from the body. Despite its extreme safety as a medication generally and particularly relative to opioids, potential adverse effects and contrindicaitons of cannabis are outlined. The module also analyses the potential for drug-to-drug interaction given CBD and THC’s effects on common biological pathways implicated in drug metabolism via their interactions with cytochrome P450 enzymes specifically.
Module Five: Patient Cases and Basic Ailments
This module identifies a number of basic ailments that may be successfully treated with medical cannabis in General Practice. For example, the adverse effects of cancer treatment, the symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia could be alleviated by medicinal cannabis with mild side effects and minimal risk of toxicity or addiction. Providing that conventional treatments have failed or caused unacceptable side effects, a growing number of conditions lend themselves to treatment with cannabis. Given the complex chemical profile, there is a single medication potential to assist with multiple symptoms, thereby reducing polypharmacy. The module applies an individualized management plan to three comprehensive case studies for patients with chronic pain, osteoarthritis, and anxiety and depression. Considerations ranging from the cost to the patient to the appropriate THC to CBD ratio are addressed. Finally, the module guides the practitioner in navigating an application for a TGA Special Access Scheme/SAS B.
Module Six: Chronic Pain and Medicinal Cannabis
This module discusses the use of medicinal cannabis as an emerging option for clinicians to reduce and alleviate difficult-to-treat, chronic, neuropathic pain. The module analyses the endocannabinoid system and the diverse, multimodal mechanisms of cannabinoid-induced analgesia. THC and CBD are an excellent additive treatment to concurrent conventional pain management for many chronic pain types associated with a range of diseases such as fibromyalgia, traumatic injury, and multiple sclerosis. For patients suffering from neuropathic pain, cannabinoids may be used successfully as an adjunctive, opioid-sparing, or ultimately a replacement therapy for managing their pain. The module also discusses a management plan’s necessary considerations (such as determining dosages and accounting for safety considerations) and applies these protocols to a chronic pain case study.
Module Seven: Anxiety, Insomnia and Depression
This module examines the homeostatic functions of the endocannabinoid system in relation to mood, stress response, and sleep. It also evaluates the therapeutic capacity of the major cannabinoids (THC and CBD), in isolation and in synergy, in relation to anxiety, depression, and insomnia. In developing a treatment plan, essential factors such as the interplay between depression, anxiety, pain, and insomnia are considered, as well as protocols for THC to CBD ratios in basic dosing, and the route and timing of administration with reference to each condition. With regard to treating insomnia particularly, the module addresses the role of other lesser-known cannabinoids, such as CBN, and terpenes. Pertinent considerations such as the dampening effect of CBD upon the undesirable effects of THC such as intoxication, tachycardia and psycho-activity (of particular importance when treating anxiety) are also discussed.
Module Eight: Cancer: Symptomatic Treatment
This module reviews the myriad of functions of cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system and considers the supportive role they may have to play in cancer therapy. Although research continues into the anti-tumour properties of cannabinoids, there is currently no evidence that medical cannabis can cure or even treat cancer. Nonetheless, it can be a successful additional therapy used in the management of cancer symptoms and the iatrogenic effects of treatment. The judicious use of medicinal cannabis can significantly improve cancer sufferers’ quality of life by managing persistent symptoms and side effects such as, cancer pain, nausea, vomiting, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. The module also considers the case studies of three different cancer patients and, for each, examines issues for the clinician related to assessment, dosing recommendations, formulation, methods of administration, and side effects.
The Professional 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 Professional Certificate 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.
The Course Includes:
- All presentation slides available for download.
- Access to additional learning resources, reference materials and video lectures.
- Readings with references to peer-reviewed journal articles to keep up-to-date with developments in the field.
In order to meet the requirements of professional and academic learning, the course assessment includes a professional requirement and two online examinations.
- Develop a report/explanation of how the learning from this course will help you with your professional development
- 88 knowledge questions based on a scenario of a medical practitioner undertaking special interest training.
- 11 per module, Example: The medical practitioner believes that 10% of the population … Is he correct? Yes/No
- 88 authentic scenario based questions based on cases of patient care at a clinic
- 11 per module, Example: A patient arrives at your clinic with this problem … What should you do? Multiple choice images based on patient cases.
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).
Certification and Accreditation
Upon successful completion of the exam, course participants will receive a Professional Certificate of Medicinal Cannabis.
Note this e-course is not hosted on Nexlec and users can click the "Select" button to be directed to the course page.
Face to Face Courses
Course transfers for Face to Face practical workshops are available, subject to requests being received, in writing, a minimum of 10 business days prior to workshop commencement. Transfer requests received after 10 business days prior to workshop commencement will incur an Administration Fee of $250.
Transfers will be subject to availability in the future workshops. If the future workshop has a cost differential, that price will apply, and any additional charges will be payable at the time of the transfer request.
One workshop transfer, per course is allowed. Further transfers will be considered upon application and may be charged at 25% of a full new workshop booking rate.
Transfers for Online courses are available subject to requests being received, in writing, within 7 days of enrolment. Transfer requests received after the 7 days post enrolment will incur an Administration Fee of $200. One course transfer request, per course is allowed.
If the future course being transferred to, has a cost differential, that price will apply, and any additional charges will be payable at the time of the course transfer request.
Online Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellation and a full refund of the course fees will be provided if a request is received, in writing, a maximum of 7 days after course enrolment. Refund requests received later than 7 days after course enrolment will incur an Administration Fee of $250. Upon cancellation and full refund of the course enrolment, you will not receive a certificate or accreditation points.
Courses purchased as part of a bundle attract a discount. This discount is apportioned to the final course in the bundle in the cases of cancellations and refunds. Therefore, cancellation and refund requests of a course that have been purchased as part of a bundle are refunded based on the first and/or second course being charged at the full price rate. Any courses remaining in the bundle can be refunded provided the request is received, in writing, a maximum of 7 days after course enrolment. Refund requests received later than 7 days after course enrolment will incur an Administration Fee of $250.
Online Modules and Assessment
8 Online Modules
Dr. Harry McIlroy
MD Integrative physician in San Francisco
Dr Harry McIlroy, MD is an integrative physician in San Francisco who combines the best of Western and Eastern medicine to help people live well and feel better.
Dr McIlroy is a licensed acupuncturist with training in functional medicine. He considers himself to be an old-time, small town family doctor with a big bag of tricks! He works hard to truly know his patients and help them optimise their health and vitality as naturally as possible. His specialities include medical cannabis, chronic pain, digestive health, regenerative medicine and insomnia.
A/Prof. Vicki Kotsirilos
Expert Reviewer 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.
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.
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
MBBS Doctor, speaker, author, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.