Buying CBD oil

So you've heard a lot about buying CBD oil in the news?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid that gets a lot of positive attention globally, mainly due to its potential health benefits without the mind-altering effects like those associated with the more well-known cannabinoid, Tetrahydroncannabinol (THC). Although CBD was actually discovered before THC, the research has been more on the latter due to its euphoric effect and popularity for non-medical purposes.

There is some misunderstanding of the regulations around buying CBD oil legally in Australia, if it can be bought over the counter without a script as well as how this product differs from hemp oil. The information below is designed to assist in understanding this popular cannabinoid and help when considering buying CBD oil.

Can CBD oil products be bought over the counter without a script?

Technically yes, but none are available YET.....and unlikely will be available within the next 12 months.

Although the TGA down-scheduled low-dose CBD in Feb 2021, there are currently no TGA approved products that meet the criteria to be sold over the counter. This means patients wanting to access CBD and other medicinal cannabis products legally, will still require a doctor prescription.

Why the long wait? Because these products will require clinical trials and pass a lengthy registration process first to ensure efficacy and patient safety.

What if I want to access CBD oil now? Other CBD products will continue to be available via a script and can be accessed via the Special Access Scheme (a doctor prescribing with approval from the relevant authorities) or an Authorised Prescriber (AP).

There are over 2,500 doctors nationally prescribing medicinal cannabis and almost 200 of these are APs, meaning they can write a medicinal cannabis script for patients immediately, without waiting for TGA approval.

See if you can access CBD oil and/or other medical cannabis and take the Am I eligible quiz?

CBD Terminology

Cannabinoids (e.g. THC and CBD) are created mostly by the flowers, and also by the leaves. There are trace amounts in the stalks. The plant cannabis sativa contains more than 400 natural chemical compounds; at least 114 of these are classed as cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are a type of chemical that interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the human body to produce a wide range of effects.

The Endocannabinoid System: The endocannabinoid system is a signalling network that controls various functions in the human body. The messaging molecules in this system are called endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids are very similar to the cannabinoids in Cannabis; endocannabinoids are manufactured internally by the body and phytocannabinoids are manufactured by the plant. Both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids bind to receptors within the body.

Cannabidiol (CBD): is a cannabinoid that is not intoxicating and will not get you 'high'.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): another cannabinoid that in addition to medical benefits, can have psychoactive effects at a sufficient dose. This means that for some patients they can have feelings of euphoria or they feel ‘high’.

Learn more about THC and CBD cannabinoids.

Image credit: Compass Lifestyle Clinics

Accessing CBD Oil (and other medical cannabis preparations)

Little Green Pharma receives many inquiries from patients about how to access CBD Oil and other preparations of medicinal cannabis in Australia.

We've put together a guide that explains:

  • the simple steps for patients to follow if they'd like to discuss this treatment option with their doctor
  • resources like an 'Eligibility Test' and 'Find a Doctor' site links
  • factsheet to discuss with your doctor

Download the Steps to Access Guide.

How to access CBD oil in Australia

What is CBD used to help treat?

There have been over 130 conditions approved by the TGA for the therapeutic use of medical cannabis including CBD dominant or CBD only products. For more information about clinical research supporting CBD for therapeutic use in different conditions please visit the Research Library on GreenChoices or the TGA’s website.

There are further clinical trials being conducted and/or reviewed for a lot of conditions. We recommend you discuss research and treatment options with your doctor. Your doctor is able to contact the Little Green Pharma team to provide clinical evidence to support prescription applications for most conditions.

Want to buy CBD oil in Australia?

Until low-dose over the counter CBD products are available, CBD oil cannot legally be bought in Australia without a prescription from a doctor because these products are considered Prescription Medicines. So, purchasing these products from a store or online is illegal and does not come with the assurance of accurate labelling. A study in the UK, where CBD oil (containing no THC) can be purchased without a prescription, looked at products available for purchase and showed that only 38% (11 out of the 29 products tested) were accurately labelled. Furthermore, 45% of these products tested had measurable levels of THC which is an issue for patients concerned about THC testing at work or on the road.

In order to prescribe a product containing CBD (or any medical cannabis as the active ingredient), a registered Australian medical practitioner must apply to the TGA for approval on behalf of the patient.

If you are looking for information on how to talk to your doctor about CBD oil, or to find a clinic or doctor who is comfortable and familiar with the prescribing process in Australia for medical cannabis, you can visit the webpage Find-A-Doctor or download the Simple Steps to Accessing Medicinal Cannabis guide.

Did you know?

1. Both CBD and THC cannabinoids are listed on the Commonwealth Poisons Standard, therefore they cannot be legally sold directly to the general public.

Only a pharmacy can sell the following types of CBD products directly to patients in Australia:

- CBD products with a maximum recommended daily dose of 150mg in packs containing 30 days or less supply, and where CBD comprises at least 98% of the total cannabinoid content in the preparation

Other products that can be sold directly to patients online or in-store are those with less than 0.01% of any cannabinoids (likely to be hemp seed oil).

2. THC & CHD can work in harmony as CBD is thought to control or moderate the ‘high’ caused by the THC*.

Patients being prescribed these cannabinoids together will refer to their prescribing doctor’s advice to determine the best ratio of CBD to THC for their condition and individual circumstances.

Understanding the label

Buying Australian-made is a good first start to know that you are buying something "true to label".

Australia has some of the strictest quality requirements for therapeutic goods globally thanks to the Australian Government’s commitment to patient safety. All medical cannabis therapies produced within Australia must satisfy the strict labeling and quality requirements of Therapeutic Goods Order No. 93 (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis) (TGO 93).

If you cannot find any mention of how many milligrams of the active ingredient is in your purchased bottle, it is likely the product is not legal and may not contain what it states on the bottle.

What is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?

Hemp oil is another name for hemp seed oil. In Australia, the Food Standards Authority strictly controls any product that can be sold without restriction in supermarkets or pharmacies. These products can only be made from hemp seeds (from the cannabis sativa plant) that have been hulled and hemp seeds do not contain any cannabinoids. In Australia, hemp oil is primarily a food consumed for its omega-3 and omega-6 content. It can also be used to make soaps, lotions and shampoos.

Medical cannabis oil or CBD oil is a medicine derived from the flower of the cannabis sativa plant used for its potentially beneficial effects in various health conditions.

Patient Information

Learn more about access

Talking to your Doctor

Read before your consult

Please Note:

  • All content on the Little Green Pharma website and associated portals, webpages and links, is for informational purposes only and has been prepared based on Little Green Pharma's understanding of the legislation, guidelines and cannabis industry experience in Australia. However, these circumstances may change and patients are recommended to check this site regularly for updates.
  • The content on the Little Green Pharma website is not intended to be a substitute for (a) professional medical diagnosis, treatment or advice, including in relation to eligibility requirements; (b) professional legal advice or guidance on legal or regulatory issues; or (c) information from manufacturers or suppliers in relation to different products or specific product information.
  • We recommend you always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider and other relevant professionals, in relation to such matters.

References:

* Roger Hudson, Justine Renard, Christopher Norris, Walter J. Rushlow, Steven R. Laviolette. Cannabidiol Counteracts the Psychotropic Side-Effects of Δ-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in the Ventral Hippocampus Through Bi-Directional Control of ERK1-2 Phosphorylation. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2019; 0708-19 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0708-19.2019

Ahmed SA., et al. ‘Minor oxygenated cannabinoids from high potency Cannabis sativa L’, Phytochemistry, vol. 117, 2015, pp. 194-199.

Mölleken H, Husmann H. Cannabinoids in seed extracts of Cannabis sativa cultivars. J Int Hemp Assoc 4(2): 73-79, 1997.

Russo, EB, ‘Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects’, British Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 163, 2011, pp. 1344-1364.