‘‘The harms associated with smoking and cannabis use are well documented,’’ he said. ‘‘Additionally, our poor record in keeping pharmaceutical pain relief medication restricted to only those who are prescribed to use it concerns me when we talk about making another drug available for medicinal use only.’’

The council’s executive director, Gino Vumbaca, said while more evidence was collected, something needed to be done to deal with Australian patients who were currently using the drugs.

The council’s report said Sativex cost about $500 per month in 2013, suggesting that some people would opt for cheaper ‘‘crude cannabis’’ unless it was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Greens Senator Richard Di Natale said a federal response was needed, because no matter what the states did it would remain an illegal drug.

A spokeswoman for the federal government said: ‘‘Decriminalisation of personal use of cannabis where there are clear compassionate circumstances is an option which  …  governments can pursue under their respective drugs and poisons control legislation.’’