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Doctor pushes cannabis plan

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Katoomba-based GP Dr Teresa Towpik is continuing her fight to be able to prescribe medical marijuana to local patients with chronic health conditions more freely.

The Polish-born doctor, who has been practicing since 1991, believes medical marijuana should be made more readily accessible to doctors, to prescribe to patients in need.

“At the moment, it’s very difficult to help a patient get access to low doses of the drug as a first line treatment,” she said.

“For each patient, doctors have to apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration providing evidence of why a patient needs the drug, scientific studies and an endorsement from a specialist, and most specialists are very hesitant to get involved.

“The amount of paperwork that has to be done per individual is huge.”

Dr Towpik said she’s had many Mountains locals come to her hoping to get help and, in some instances, has had to turn them away.

“I often have people who will call the medical centre where I practice to make an appointment to discuss this option,” she said.

“I’ve had to ask the receptionists to let each person know how long and complicated the process is and that I am unable to help everyone.”

While the process is very difficult, Dr Towpik believes there is huge potential for those suffering to be taken off opioids and medications that can have serious side effects and be cured from chronic pain and illness.

In May, after months of research on the benefits of using marijuana for conditions like depression, anxiety, drug addictions, palliative care and chronic pain, Dr Towpik spoke at the Hemp Health and Innovation Expo in Sydney.

“I heard so many stories of hope and healing at the Expo,” she said.

“So many people have been fully cured by using medical marijuana.

“But it is very unfair that patients are forced to feel like criminals breaking the law just to be relieved of pain.”

Ultimately Ms Towpik said she would one day like to open a cannabis clinic where patients can come in and be individually assessed and treated accordingly.