CBD Oil in Australia

CBD Oil in Australia

What is CBD oil?

CBD oil is made up of CBD (cannabidiol) derived from the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa) blended with a carrier oil. CBD is one of the many cannabinoids (compounds) in the cannabis plant and one of the major components used for therapeutic use.

Medicinal cannabis (also referred to as medical marijuana) generally includes one or both of two major cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant – CBD (cannabidiol) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC are the two main cannabinoids responsible for most of the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

CBD is not psychoactive and has no psychoactive effect. This means CBD doesn’t change a person’s state of mind when using it. THC is psychoactive in that it has a mind-altering effect, known to cause a ‘high’ if heated i.e. when a person smokes it or when used in cooking.

There are three main types of CBD:

  • • CBD isolate is a pure form of CBD and usually comes from hemp plants and doesn’t contain other cannabis plant compounds. There also are differences in hemp products: CBD oil is derived from the hemp plant’s leaves, stalk and flowers whereas hemp seed oil comes from the seeds and does not contain CBD;
  • • Full-spectrum CBD products contain multiple cannabis plant extracts like essential oils and terpenes (responsible for creating a plant’s aroma or scent) and in some CBD products, up to 3 per cent THC; and
  • • Broad-spectrum CBD contains various compounds and cannabinoids from the cannabis plant but typically does not contain THC.

What does CBD oil do?

In understanding what CBD oil (cannabidiol) does and its therapeutic benefits, we need to understand the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating our internal bodily functions and maintaining a state of balance (homeostasis). This includes sleep, appetite, reproduction, memory, inflammation, mood and more.

The endocannabinoid system is made of three main parts:

  • • Endocannabinoids are the body’s own version of cannabis compounds;
  • • Receptors aid absorption and mediate the effects of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids; and
  • • Enzymes regulate the breakdown of endocannabinoids after completing their function.

Endocannabinoids occur naturally in our bodies. Phytocannabinoids are found in plants like the cannabis plant and can mimic the action of endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoid deficiency is what researchers believe to be an underlying cause of various ailments, especially those related to inflammation and the immune system. This deficiency occurs when the body’s endocannabinoid system isn’t functioning correctly which makes the body more prone to diseases, believed to be linked to disorders like migraine, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. While more research is needed in this area, it is thought that cannabinoids – like CBD oil – can help the endocannabinoid system function properly and help reduce disease symptoms.

Is CBD oil legal in Australia?

In Australia, medicinal cannabis products, which includes CBD oil, are legally controlled drugs, regulated by the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Office of Drug Control (ODC).

Unlike cannabis that is grown and sold illegally on the black market, the components and dose of all medicinal cannabis products, including CBD oil, are more controlled and consistent. This means the effects of medicinal cannabis are more predictable — distinctly different to street cannabis which is uncontrolled and can be contaminated with mould or solvents.

What does CBD oil treat?

CBD oil can be used to combat various health conditions, which includes nausea, vomiting, psychosis disorders, seizures, neurodegenerative disorders, anxiety, depression, tumour growth and cancer cell growth.

Medicinal cannabis products, which includes CBD, and sometimes in combination with THC, may be a valid treatment to improve quality of life for some patients. Conditions include sleep and insomnia, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, PTSD, palliative care, endometriosis, cancer pain, anxiety, and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Which doctors can prescribe CBD oil?

In Australia, all registered medical practitioners can prescribe medical cannabis but each prescription requires approval from the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Is CBD oil accessible to anyone in Australia?

All registered doctors in Australia can prescribe medicinal cannabis for patients but approval is required by the TGA. Part of the eligibility test includes a patient needing to have had the medical condition for at least three months and not responded to conventional medicine or if current treatment has intolerable side effects.

Through the TGA framework, the TGA considers each patient’s prescription of medicinal cannabis via the Special Access Scheme (SAS) application, which is submitted on the patient’s behalf by the prescribing doctor. This application includes clinical evidence and reasons for treatment, dosing routine, and length of treatment.

Other access pathways within the TGA framework is the Authorised Prescriber Scheme (APS) which allows doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis for a specific condition or patient participation in Clinical Trials.

For low dose CBD products, on 15 December 2020, the TGA announced that up to a maximum of 150mg/day in adults can be supplied without prescription by pharmacists to patients over-the-counter. The products supplied are TGA approved and included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

For the most current and accurate information on cannabis medicine and accessing medicinal cannabis in Australia, please visit the TGA’s Medicinal Cannabis  Guidance Documents.

How do you buy CBD oil?

Buying CBD oil at a pharmacy requires a doctor’s prescription, approved by the TGA. With one exception being low dose CBD. As of December 2020, patients across Australia can buy low dose CBD products (up to a maximum of 150mg/day in adults) over-the-counter at pharmacies. For all other medicinal cannabis products, a doctor’s prescription is required which is subject to TGA approval.

Where can I buy CBD oil in Australia?

Pharmacies across all Australia’s states and territories are permitted to dispense medicinal cannabis products subject to a doctor’s TGA approved prescription (with the exception of low-dose CBD which is available to buy over-the-counter), as long as the pharmacy meets the Department of Health’s requirements.

Although it is also possible to buy CBD oil online, patients need to be aware of the shortfalls. Problems in buying CBD oil online include not buying the correct product, not taking the correct dosage, false quality claims, and a lack of regulation and monitoring the efficacy of the promised health benefits.

affordable care

Is CBD oil subsidised?

The Australian government does not fund medicinal cannabis products under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). This means that patients need to pay the full cost of products themselves. The cost of cannabis medicines varies depending on the type of product prescribed and dosage. Patients also need to pay for related medical costs and review appointments with medical professionals.

Even though most medicinal cannabis products are unregistered medicines with no government funding under the PBS, from May 2021, Australians living with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, have access to Epidyolex® (CBD). This is the first medicinal cannabis drug to be subsidised by the Australian government under the PBS. Epidyolex® as well as Sativex® (nabiximols; THC and CBD), which treats moderate to severe spasticity in multiple sclerosis, are two cannabis medicines which have been registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

To make pain management treatments more accessible and affordable for Australian patients, Cannatrek has a number of initiatives in place with doctors, medical practitioners and pharmacists. For a small number of patients, Cannatrek may be able to reduce costs through clinical trials or concession-based discounts, although this is often not the case. To find out more, speak to a health professional or make contact with the Cannatrek team.

What to look for in a CBD oil product?

The Federal government carefully controls and regulates the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia across cultivation, manufacture, supply, import, export and patient access.

In assessing the quality, safety and efficacy of a CBD oil product, patients should contact their doctor for treatment options.

Is CBD oil safe and effective?

In Australia, most medicinal cannabis products are unapproved medicines that require TGA approval for a doctor to prescribe for a patient. This means that doctors and patients need to understand and discuss the safety requirements of using medicinal cannabis.

What are the side effects of CBD oil?

In general, the side effects of CBD-rich products are less than those of high ratio THC products. Although in some instances, for patients taking high doses of CBD, like paediatric epilepsies, some patients will encounter side-effects with those higher dose CBD products.

For both CBD and THC, known side-effects may include fatigue, sedation, vertigo, nausea and vomiting, changes in appetite, dry mouth, and diarrhoea.

Is it safe to drive when taking CBD oil?

Cannabis medicines can cause impairment and affect fitness to drive. The type of medication prescribed will determine the legality and appropriateness of a patient driving.

Patients taking CBD only medication are legally permitted if they are not impaired. Since CBD side-effects include drowsiness, fatigue and lowered blood pressure, it is best for a patient to discuss driving and potential risks with the prescribing doctor.

It is illegal to drive if taking THC because THC can affect cognitive and motor skills.

For more information on driving when taking CBD oil, please visit the NSW Government Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation.

cannabis oil dropper

How do you know CBD oil is working?

The effects of CBD oil will vary from person to person. Factors which impact the time taken to feel the benefits of CBD oil include: dosage, timing of last meal, and body weight.

Method of consumption, dosage, concentration and individual biological factors will also impact the response time in feeling the effects of a medical cannabis product.

Prescriptions and method of consumption depend on an individual’s needs. These include:

  • Inhalation: Breathing in vaporised dried cannabis flower and vape concentrate; effects are generally felt immediately or within 30 minutes, and last from 2 to 4 hours.
  • Ingestion and sublingual (under tongue): Ingesting cannabis oil, oral spray and softgels; effects are typically felt within 2 hours of administration and last from 6 to 8 hours.
  • Topical: Oils are added to lotions, gels or creams and applied topically; effects are typically felt immediately depending on application site, and lasts for 1 to 2 hours.

Some people use a combination of options for their treatment plan. Medicinal cannabis should not be smoked. Once starting medicinal cannabis treatment, it is important to have review appointments with your prescribing doctor to assess the success of your treatment plan, to discuss any side-effects and/or if your treatment is not working.

Have more questions? Contact one of our consultants at Cannatrek today.

Cannatrek is a technology-driven Australian company specialising in the research, cultivation, manufacturing and delivery of medical cannabis, committed to enhancing Australian patients’ quality of life.

To learn more about the health benefits of medical cannabis and accessing high quality medicinal cannabis products in Australia, please speak to a doctor or contact Cannatrek directly on 1300 122 662. For general enquiries email info@cannatrek.com or for access-related enquiries email access@cannatrek.com.