Releaf set to open patient-centric medicinal cannabis clinic in West End.

Releaf, Australia’s pioneering dedicated clinic and dispensary group, has marked a significant milestone in its mission to provide alternative healthcare options. Having opened a registered pharmacy earlier this year in Boundary Street, the company is now set to expand its services by introducing a new clinic in West End, staffed by practitioners capable of prescribing medicinal cannabis.

Founder Gary Mackenzie, a cancer survivor whose journey led him to explore the benefits of medicinal cannabis, said the motivation behind establishing Releaf stems from his personal experience battling kidney cancer seven years ago.

“I had kidney cancer seven years ago. I can only speak from my own personal experience, but I am recovering from cancer, and I didn’t have any chemo or radiotherapy. That’s how I first got introduced to medicinal cannabis: It replaced the opiates I was using at the time.”

With an emphasis on the safety and effectiveness of medicinal cannabis, Mackenzie highlighted its potential as an alternative to conventional Western medications and said it is primarily prescribed in Australia for pain, sleep, and anxiety issues.

Cannabis is a lot safer because you can’t overdose on it as you can with opioids,” he said.

Interestingly, people over the age of fifty, many of whom have never used cannabis recreationally, are a significant demographic engaging with medicinal cannabis. These patients turn to medicinal cannabis to address conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, stress, and anxiety.

However, despite the evident benefits, Mackenzie acknowledged the persisting stigma surrounding the industry due to historical misconceptions and media influence. He noted the ongoing educational gap within the medical community, saying that limited knowledge among doctors often restricts the prescription of medicinal cannabis.

The Releaf founder stressed the need for an educational revolution within the medical profession to alleviate stigma and encourage a more informed approach to prescribing medicinal cannabis.

“There’s a big education piece that needs to happen in the medical industry. Medical professionals need to be brought up to speed with the benefits of the plant,” Mackenzie said.

Medicinal Cannabis

Releaf’s proactive approach involves training doctors and pharmacists to bridge the knowledge gap and support healthcare professionals in understanding the benefits and prescriptions of medicinal cannabis.

Due to the limited availability of clinics and professionals able to prescribe medicinal cannabis, Releaf enables telehealth nationally, or patients can still access medical services through Fortitude Valley or through telehealth.

“In West End, we’ll have a dedicated clinic opened in about two to three weeks.”

The introduction of medicinal cannabis still faces regulatory challenges due to the newness of the industry and stringent guidelines set by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)[i].

“It’s still very early days in Australia because research was illegal here up until a few years ago,” Mackenzie explained. “There’s been research done over the last 60 years and a lot of supporting evidence that medical cannabis is beneficial from a health perspective. But you’re not allowed to make claims in Australia.”

Releaf boasts a patient base of over 35,000 nationwide and has witnessed positive outcomes, with many patients transitioning from conventional opioids to medicinal cannabis and experiencing improved well-being.

The administration of medicinal cannabis comes in various forms.

“Doctors encourage the patient to use a dried flower vaporiser, which actually heats the cannabis up, but it doesn’t combust. It helps your lungs to absorb vapor rather than smoking it. There are also oils, soft gels, and capsules on the market.”

Mackenzie emphasised the critical distinction between regulated medicinal cannabis and non-regulated sources, stressing that products sold by Releaf are meticulously vetted to meet TGA standards.

“All of our products sold by Releaf are registered through the TGA and have to meet a certificate of analysis. Farming is highly regulated. So, all the medicines have to be checked and measured before they’re allowed to be prescribed,” he said,

There is a critical difference in the quality and safety of regulated medicinal cannabis compared to products that might be cultivated at home or acquired through non-regulated means.

“There’s a chance that [home grown varieties] might have microbes or heavy metals or fertilisers or something inside the plant which isn’t good,” Mackenzie highlighted.

Releaf’s commitment to patient well-being extends beyond product quality; the clinic offers initial and follow-up consultations to monitor patients and their dosage, ensuring a tailored and monitored approach to their medicinal cannabis usage.

Releaf doctors discuss the option of prescribing medicinal cannabis to patients after considering their medical condition, potential safety concerns (like interactions with other medications), their occupation, and driving. Some cannabis medicines contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can cause intoxicating effects, especially at higher doses. Australian state/territory-based driving laws consider it an offence to drive with any amount of THC in the body.

Mr Mackenzie encourages patients considering medicinal cannabis to consult with healthcare professionals who are well-versed in its usage and can provide guidance based on the current evidence and individual health conditions.

At its Fortitude Valley clinic, Releaf has recently engaged with “Cookies”, a lifestyle and cannabis brand known for its fashion and cannabis accessories.

Rose Lane’s story for Westender, 1 Jun, 2022

As the industry continues to evolve, Releaf’s new clinic in West End is likely to contribute to the growing acceptance and understanding of medicinal cannabis in Australia.

The new clinic will be located at Suite 14, 105 Vulture Street, West End.


[i] In Australia, medicinal cannabis is categorised as an ‘unapproved good’ or ‘unapproved medicine.’ The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has only evaluated one cannabis medicine and included it in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. This means it can be legally prescribed by medical doctors or, in some cases, nurse practitioners. Medicinal cannabis products fall under two main categories in the national drugs and poisons schedule: Schedule 4 (Prescription Only) and Schedule 8 (Controlled Medicines).

For more information on scheduling, you can refer to the TGA website:

Cover image, istock