CBD oil Australia: how to get it, and is it even legal?

CBD oil is a much-lauded cannabis-based therapy that’s got the world talking. But what exactly is it? And is it legally available in Australia?

It’s the new therapeutical phenomenon that’s making waves around the world, especially in celebrity circles. Otherwise known as cannabidiol, it’s derived from the hemp plant. Hemp, of course, is related to marijuana, and therefore some of the latter’s notoriety has rubbed off on CBD.

It doesn’t really paint the whole picture though. No, if you’re looking for a low-risk loophole for getting blazed, CBD oil will only disappoint you. Instead, it’s a substance that’s gathering steam as a legitimate treatment for a number of common and rare conditions. So let’s take a look at what it actually is (and what it’s not), what it can do, and how you can get it.

CBD oil Australia: legal status

CBD, or cannabidiol, is extracted from the hemp plant and is classed as a Schedule 4 drug by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia. This means that it’s available via prescription only and typically administered in a liquid dropper or capsule. Importantly, however, the TGA has recategorised certain low-dose CBD products to Schedule 3 — meaning that they can be accessed over the counter at a pharmacy. But as of late last year, there are no TGA-approved Schedule 3 products in Australia.

In fact, this process could be a slow one, as described by cannabis educational website, Honahlee:

“These products need to go through clinical trials and be proven both safe and effective. The trial process can take up to 12 months. They must then be approved, which can take up to another 12 months. So, we probably won’t see low dose CBD in pharmacies until at least 2023.”

But when it does hit the shelves in Oz, company’s like Cannatrek and Chemist Warehouse are set to cash in. In fact, Chemist Warehouse believes so much in the partnership they’ve struck an equity deal with the supplier, according to a report in the Fin Review. Much like in the States, lots of people will seemingly get rich when weed by-products go legit in Australia.

Interestingly, some medical experts argue that the low dosage option (60 mg per day) that will eventually be available over the counter will provide users with little benefit. According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Iain McGregor of Sydney University’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics claims that “300 to 400mg of cannabidiol was effective at treating anxiety,” while warning that “thousands of such patients may instead continue “self-medicating” with illicit use of cannabis.”

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CBD oil Australia: What can it treat?

Crucially, you won’t be getting stoned by taking CBD oil. By definition, it doesn’t contain the psychoactive substances found in marijuana. It has been used to treat pain and inflammation, anxiety and depression, insomnia, and cancer-related symptoms, such as the side effects of chemotherapy. Harvard Health says:

“…the strongest scientific evidence is for its effectiveness in treating some of the cruellest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to anti-seizure medications.” 

So if you are experiencing the above-listed symptoms, a chat with your GP should clarify whether or not you’re a good candidate for CBD oil therapy.

CBD oil Australia: Buying online

First things first: it’s technically illegal to buy CBD oil online or import it (even though there are reputable places to get it overseas). What’s more, the highly unregulated black market isn’t known for its checks and balances, therefore, you’re at risk of buying a dodgy counterfeit product, or something more dangerous.

When referring to a study from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, the TGA explains that “…without independent testing from a laboratory experienced in analysing CBD content, it is impossible to confirm if the level of THC stated on the label is correct and that the product is not contaminated.”

In other words, you don’t know what’s in it. And according to Honahlee, you’re not even getting a bargain: “The price of legal CBD products is reasonably close to the price of illegal CBD.” 

The trend for greater awareness around CBD oil should be a positive development for Australians. There’s no doubt that its popularity is set to continue climbing, and is inexorably heading for the shelves. But for now, all roads lead to your trusty GP.