Managing cases where medicinal cannabis is being used

Follow this procedure when managing reports and investigations regarding the use of medicinal cannabis on children.

Introduction

Medicinal cannabis is the term applied when cannabis is used for therapeutic reasons.

See Medicinal cannabis – advice.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

Intake

  • If a report is received with concerns for a child being administered cannabis for medicinal purposes, consult with the Office of Professional Practice (OPP).
  • Unless other wised advised by the OPP, the report is to be classified as a protective intervention report and proceed to investigation.

Investigation

  • Carry out the investigation in the same manner as other investigations.  See procedures under Investigation policy for tasks that must be undertaken.

Usual procedures regarding undertaking a first home visit, liaison with relevant professionals and the assessment of protective concerns using the available tools and worksheets are to be followed. This will allow the same level of analysis to occur, to establish whether a child is considered to be at a risk of significant harm.

  • Consult with the OPP prior to the first home visit and throughout the investigation. 

The children being administered medicinal cannabis are likely to have complex health needs and significant impairments, making it more difficult for the practitioner to assess and isolate whether the child is being significantly harmed from the administration of cannabis. Given this complexity, child protection practitioners must consult with a state-wide principal practitioner (OPP) to receive support with case assessment and decision making, and contact relevant medical professionals to obtain their assessment and expert advice.

  • Consult with the police as necessary.

Child protection practitioners must ensure they follow the police protocol in terms of reporting offences to Victoria Police.

Substantiation

  • If the concerns are substantiated, consult with your team manager and the OPP regarding what action to take.
  • The case must be moved to protective intervention phase and a case plan is to be prepared.

This decision will be based on a full assessment and analysis of the child and family’s full circumstances and not solely on whether cannabis was administered. Analysis must weigh potential harm against safety.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and support.

Team manager tasks

  • In the event the concerns are substantiated, endorse any action taken.
  • Endorse the case plan.

Statewide principal practitioner

  • Provide consultation and advice throughout the life of the case.
  • Endorse any action taken.

Related procedures

Additional information

1