How popular is medicinal cannabis?
A BOOMING Gold Coast medicinal cannabis clinic has turned to crowd funding to help light up the joint.
And it says it has been pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars in a few days.
CDA Clinics wants to fund a second clinic and a manufacturing facility on the Glitter Strip to meet demand, but says it has been thwarted by get-off-the-grass banks.
Since opening on the Coast last October, CDA - which stands for Cannabis Doctors Australia - has more 700 regular patients and accrued a six-week waiting list.
But owners of the Burleigh company say banks are stone cold on the new-wave medicine.
"Banks in Australia are behind on the shift towards medicinal cannabis and there is still a lot of stigma there," CDA director of operations Guy Headly said yesterday.
"We found it quite challenging when dealing with traditional financial institutions despite being part of the medical profession.
"Medicinal cannabis has been in the country for three years and has helped thousands across Australia, but many banks are unwilling to be part of it."
So CDA turned to the public, and Mr Headly says it has worked.
"What we saw was patients and doctors coming to us asking how they could get involved in this. We are a small doctor-led company and wanted to be a point of difference to big pharma.
"We want to retain this focus by being community owned and not be held to account by large investors chasing short-term returns."
Along with banks, Mr Headly said other legal restrictions were stunting the progress of the industry.
"We are restricted and cannot advertise products, can't advertise on Facebook and Google because they are US based so there are still challenges."
CDA Clinics has clinics in Miami, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and also own Burleigh Cannabis, a wholesale import business.
The crowd funding will go towards the second clinic in Nerang and the eventual manufacture of medicinal cannabis in the Burleigh warehouse.
"This will be Australia's first crowd fund in the medical cannabis space," he said.
CDA managing director Dr Matua Jansen said the company was responsible for 28 per cent of Australia's patient approvals in the last four months.
"There have been 700 patient approvals on the Coast since we opened and since medicinal cannabis was legalised there have been 3500 in Australia," Dr Jansen said.
"We see Gold Coast patients aged from seven to 97. More often than not it is middle-aged patients that come to us with things like chronic pain, anxiety and PTSD.
"We treat other conditions as well such as blood sugar control, restless leg syndrome and more."
Dr Jansen said the stigma surrounding the drug was disappointing given the risks of other medical aides such as opioids.
"Australia is seeing a huge opioid epidemic due to overuse of prescriptions and yet alternative treatments are still judged heavily.
"It is our mission to show the medical community this safe alternative and treat patients in need."
CDA clinics can be contacted via their website.