Low dose CBD medicine is now available over the counter in Australia

Published Feb 15, 2021 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / dvulikaia

Is weed legal in Australia? Well, suppose you live in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), of which the capital of Australia, Canberra, is located. In that case, you reside in a space where the plant's recreational use will not land you in jail. Other areas, however, aren’t quite so lenient. CBD, on the other hand, can now be purchased over the counter at any pharmacy throughout Australia.  Australians who suffer from anxiety, sleep disorders, or arthritis, among many other concerns, as of this week, are thanking the Therapeutic Goods Administration for this favourable decision.

Medical cannabis became legal in 2016 with the country’s passing of the Narcotic Drugs Amendment. Australia's Department of Health, the Office of Drug Control, is the department that oversees the national medical cannabis program. No longer will one need special approval or a referral from cannabis doctors to purchase this medicine.  A maximum daily dose of 150mg can now be bought over the counter at any local pharmacy.

Some studies have indicated that CBD is rarely associated with any serious adverse effects. One study noted that a low dose CBD regime actually seems to lessen the appearance of adverse effects. CBD is among the hundreds of compounds of the marijuana plant similar to THC. However, unlike THC, this compound does not produce a "high." Cannabis Doctors Australia claims they have been part of clinical research that shows how low doses of CBD are reducing the effects of insomnia, PTSD, and the impact of lowering refractory pain.

Method of consumption

Low dose oral, sublingual formulations, and oral mucosal methods of administering CBD will be available to purchase through the over the counter method at local pharmacies. If you require the formulations to include vaping and topical cream products, a prescription from one of the many cannabis doctors will still be required. However, it is notable to remember that a change in anyone’s medical regime should only be implemented after consulting with health care providers or cannabis doctors.

The stigma surrounding CBD and the whole marijuana plant is slowly changing. Information and education have had a direct impact on the more positive acceptance of the herb. After eighty years of false stigma and a lack of education, it takes time to change. According to founder and clinical director Dr. Ben Jansen of the Cannabis Doctors Australia (CDA Clinics), shifting to over-the-counter availability of CBD is just one way to facilitate better access for those who can benefit from it.

Pharmacies in Australia have been given the green light to sell CBD over the counter to consumers without a prescription. However (AMA), the Australian Medical Association does not support the TGA decision to schedule low doses of CBD oil. The AMA is not confident of the pharmacist's ability to educate and advise patients properly of any adverse conditions that could arise.

This change should not have you making a beeline to the pharmacy because there is no product. As of yet, no CBD oil products have been given the green light to sell to pharmacies. The process may take anywhere up to six months to complete.

Final thoughts

This is perhaps the most considerable medical cannabis milestone since the legalization of medical cannabis in 2016. However small, on the path to legalization of the whole marijuana plant, every step that is taken deserves to be celebrated as it will positively change how patients can access their medicine going forward.

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