CBD’s medicinal status in Australia is much different from the situation in other countries where the substance is available without a prescription, such as the UK and US. In the UK, low-dose CBD oil can be sold as a dietary supplement, but not a medicine. In the US, the substance is not approved on a federal level, but in some states it is possible to buy everything from pet food to bottled water to Martha Stewart branded gummies containing CBD. “You have this runaway train that’s way beyond the evidence available,” says McGregor.
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant, but unlike THC, it does not have psychoactive effects. On 1 February, it became legal to purchase products containing low-dose cannabidiol (CBD) over the counter, after the Therapeutic Goods Administration down-scheduled the substance from a Schedule 4 (prescription medicine) to a Schedule 3 (pharmacist-only medicine). On 15 December, the TGA announced the decision after a safety review that indicated “known adverse events of CBD at low doses were not serious”.
CBD, a compound found in cannabis that does not have psychoactive effects, is now legal to sell over the counter. But don’t expect to find any in your local pharmacy yet. Photograph: Anatoliy Sizov/Getty Images/iStockphoto
“Now we have approval, but in order for companies to get these products to market they have to … show that the product is safe, but also efficacious.
“We don’t know if it will work,” says Assoc Prof Yvonne Bonomo, a physician in addiction medicine and chief investigator at the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical Research Excellence. “It may work for some people. It’s hard to know. That’s why we need to look at it.”
The Western Australia government allows for GPs and normal doctors to prescribe medicinal CBD oil without specialists or government approval.
As CBD oil is a relatively new product, most pharmacists and chemists are slow to add these to their shelves.
Discussion opens up about having CBD oil legally available over the counter.
The history and future of CBD in WA
CBD oil can be prescribed to patients for the following conditions:
2020: The cost for CBD oil continues to drop due to local Perth manufacturers.
2022: Cannabis becomes legal for personal use in Australia. You are now able to purchase CBD oil products at Woolworths or Coles.
2018: CBD oil becomes a more popular medicine in Perth. Cannabis clinics open up to meet the demand of patients seeking marijuana oil treatment.
“It’s become this almost universal panacea,” says Dr Iain. Depending on who you ask, CBD oil is good for what ails you, whether that be anxiety, anorexia, insomnia, PTSD, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, depression, migraines, or feeling chronically unchill.
It was first discovered in the 50s and 60s (in modern times) and was basically thought to be useless, says the Doc. That was, until the 70s, when we rediscovered its antiepileptic effects. But it really wasn’t until the past four or five years that there’s been a real increase in awareness and research.
What’s CBD good for?
As of 2015 CBD oil is legal in Australia, as long as it contains at least 98% cannabidiol and 2% or less of other cannabinoids found in cannabis. When compared to a lot of other countries, like the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Netherlands, we’re quite behind.
“The main thing we need is a really vibrant domestic market. It grows particularly well in Australia — the stuff just jumps out of the ground!”
“Surprisingly the government — particularly the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which regulates how drugs are marketed and available to consumers — seem to be listening,” says Dr Iain.