This downgraded low-dose CBD from Schedule 4 (prescription medicine) to Schedule 3 (over-the-counter medicine), essentially making it legal to buy CBD oil and other CBD products in Australia without a doctor’s prescription.
While this change is a step in the right direction, Australians won’t find any CBD products in pharmacies for at least another year. And even when these products do appear, they won’t be as effective as they can be.
Here’s what you need to know about buying CBD in Australia in 2021 and beyond.
Limitations On Buying CBD
Although CBD is now technically legal to buy over-the-counter at Australian pharmacies, there are several limitations that you should be aware of.
Cannabinoid Content and Potency
The remaining 2% can come from other naturally-derived cannabinoids, including a 1% maximum for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis.
This requirement is problematic because the most effective form of CBD, known as full-spectrum hemp extract, contains dozens of beneficial cannabinoids that work in synergy in CBD.
Although they’re present in small quantities, they still typically account for more than 2% of the total cannabinoid content of hemp, the special variety of cannabis that CBD is derived from.
This means that companies will have to either reduce or remove other beneficial cannabinoids from their CBD products, leaving behind pure CBD.
According to research, purified CBD (also known as isolate) is up to four times less effective than full-spectrum CBD.
But that’s not the only problem. The TGA also set a limit on potency, as CBD products can only provide doses of up 150 mg of CBD daily.
Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods Approval
Lastly and most importantly, all CBD products must go through the TGA’s strict approval process to confirm their safety, efficacy, and quality before they can be sold.
This requirement is especially restrictive, as companies have to complete a lengthy application to have their products included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
This includes providing research evidence to prove that low-dose CBD is both safe and effective for helping with certain health issues, which is not only expensive but also time-consuming.
This approach is different from the UK, US, and other countries where CBD products are considered dietary supplements, which means they can be sold without the need to conduct medical research.
When Will CBD Become Available?
Even though CBD is now legal over-the-counter in Australia, you won’t find any CBD products at pharmacies.
In the words of University of Sydney professor and cannabis researcher Iain McGregor, “You can have as much whiskey as you like, but there’s no whiskey available.”
That’s because no company has completed the TGA’s approval process. McGregor believes it may take six to 12 months before the first legal CBD products become available in the country.
Right now, the only CBD drug listed on the ARTG is Epydyolex, which is approved for treating severe forms of childhood epilepsy and requires a doctor’s prescription.
How Can I Get CBD Right Now?
Currently, the only legal way to access CBD in Australia is to go through the Special Access Scheme (SAS) or Authorised Prescriber (AP) Scheme, which allows qualified healthcare professionals to prescribe products that are not currently included on the ARTG.
But as you probably guessed, these methods are not easy and few Australians have been able to use them to access CBD and medical cannabis products.
The bottom line is that Australia is far behind the US, UK, Canada, and many other countries where CBD products have been readily available for several years with few restrictions.
Even when CBD products do appear in pharmacies, they won’t be as effective because of the TGA’s prohibitive rules.
That’s why many Australians choose to buy CBD oil and other CBD products from trusted online retailers. These online shops typically provide third-party lab tests to verify the safety and efficacy and of their CBD products.
If you would like more information, feel free to call us on 0447 306 126 or email us with your questions.