Australia has been very hesitant to lift regulations on cannabis products. Government officials believe more research is necessary before CBD oil becomes widely available to the masses.
In 2016, Australia started allowing general practitioners (GPs) to write prescriptions for CBD oil. Then, half of the states okayed GPs to apply for exceptions in cases where medical treatment options weren’t working. Now, they’re considering over-the-counter low-dose CBD for consumers.
Here’s what you need to know!
The road to legal CBD oil in Australia
Australia didn’t legally recognize the difference between marijuana and hemp until 2016. Prior to that, all cannabis products were classified as Schedule (S8) Drugs. They were strictly regulated and deemed poisonous to the public.
Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) lifted the ban on hemp extracts under the still-growing Australian medical cannabis program. This downregulation saw CBD oil knocked down to a Schedule 4 (S4) classification.
With this new legislature, there are specific regulations that must be upheld to remain in compliance. For one, the CBD content must be at 98% or less.
The remaining 2% is allowed to be any of the other 100+ phytocannabinoids found in hemp. Not all of these phytocannabinoids are intoxicating. However, the TGA doesn’t believe there have been enough studies on each individual phytocannabinoid other than CBD and THC to deem these others safe or effective for medical treatment.
Of that 2%, there are even more restrictions on how much THC is allowed in the formula. In New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland, THC levels can’t exceed 1%. Meanwhile, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia have a 0.35% THC limit.
How to Get a Prescription for CBD Oil in Australia
Getting a CBD oil prescription isn’t the easiest process, especially for people in need of immediate care. That’s why Australia is trying to pass a law that would allow sales for low-dose CBD oil.
For those seeking hemp-based care, they must get assessed by their regular physician. If their regular physician is uncomfortable with prescribing cannabis, your regular doctor must be the one to refer you to a doctor who does prescribe cannabis.
You must have one of the following TGA-approved conditions to receive a CBD oil prescription:
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- refractory pediatric epilepsy
- palliative care indications
- cancer pain
- neuropathic pain
- spasticity from neurological conditions
- anorexia and wasting associated with chronic illness (such as cancer)
Before the doctor writes a prescription, they must fill out a Special Access Scheme (SAS). This document is an official petition to the TGA to allow you access to CBD oil under the Australian medical cannabis program.
Currently, doctors can only prescribe approved items by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). There are specific CBD oil brands that have been approved by the ARTG to prescribe.
Why Low-Dose CBD in Australia is Essential
Low-dose CBD is the next logical path in Australia’s journey to cannabis legalization. They’re already starting to make accommodations that are leaning towards this evolution.
Filling out a SAS is a lot of paperwork and time-consuming. These thoughts are especially echoed by doctors who are medically trained in the field of cannabis care.
That’s why New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia started to allow GPs to apply and become an Authorized Practitioner (APs).
APs are allowed to prescribe CBD oil without applying to the TGA with a SAS. As an AP, it’s understood that they’re prescribing CBD oil as a last case scenario.
APs will only write a prescription if they tried other approved and viable treatment options, and the doctor witnessed first-hand that the treatments are providing the desired outcome.
This kind of autonomy is essential for the long-term health of the Australian people. They need all-natural ways to fight pain, improve their immune system, and boost their mood. APs were a small step in the right direction. Low-dose CBD is an even bigger one!
Australia Considers Low-Dose CBD Oil
As of July 2020, over 20% more SAS applications flooded the TGA. With growing concern over our health in the face of a pandemic, people want natural alternatives to improve their wellness.
This rise in demand is CBD legal in all states becoming too much for TGA to process. Plus, wait times are becoming too long for those who genuinely need the support of CBD oil.
TGA is also being very cautious with this potential program. Potential low-dose CBD oil would be sold over-the-counter at pharmacies. You would still need to consult with a trained chemist before they allow you to make the purchase.
You will be given a 30-day supply and be entered into a database. That way, you can’t go to multiple pharmacies to get your prescription filled.
The CBD oil will be formulated so that a daily intake doesn’t exceed 60mg of CBD. All formulas will still follow the same Australian standards of 98% CBD and 2% phytocannabinoids, with 1% or less comprising THC.
When Will Low-Dose CBD Oil Be Legal in Australia?
The idea of low-dose CBD oil was already on the table pre-pandemic. It’s still being discussed in great detail among the TGA, especially with the influx of SAS requests.
Perhaps the biggest hold out will be a change in scheduling. For low-dose CBD oil to become legal, it must be downgraded once again to a Schedule 3 (S3) or Schedule 2 (S2) classification. Government officials aren’t convinced that the science warrants such a demotion quite yet.
What Does Low-Dose CBD Oil Mean for the Future of Australia?
Australia currently bans people from importing CBD oil into the country. However, they are allowing people to get paraphernalia. So, if you’re in the medical cannabis program, you can shop for glass pipes to smoke cannabis.
As Australia shifts their mindset on cannabis, low-dose CBD oil might open the door for different products. The ARTG would have to include CBD topicals, vaporizers, and edibles.
With Australia, everything has been baby steps. They’re slowly giving APs more autonomy. Now, they’re giving some of that freedom to pharmacists. One day, the people might enjoy these perks, as well!