Aussies Can Now Buy Over-the-Counter CBD Oil

Soft Secrets
01 Feb 2021

Medical bill advances in Australia and eases Aussies access to basic cannabis medicine. Some good news arrives from the Land Down Under. Australia becomes the latest name on the list of countries to have eased restrictions on cannabis medicine availability. 

Beginning February, pharmacies across the Land Down Under can sell over-the-counter low-dose CBD oil to Aussies in need - notably, without special approval or prescription from a doctor.  The decision by the country’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) comes as a part of medicinal marijuana therapy, with Cannabis Doctors Australia asserting clinical research on the use of low-dose CBD oil alleviates anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, and chronic pain. 

“The decision will allow TGA approved low-dose CBD containing products, up to a maximum of 150 mg/day, for use in adults, to be supplied over-the-counter by a pharmacist, without a prescription,” reads the official notice, which has been revealed in December 2020 and citing 1 February 2021 as the appropriate implementation date of the decision.  Under the decision, CBD oil suppliers must meet strict regulatory guidelines, so nationwide availability may still be months away. 

“The decision limits over-the-counter supply to only those products that are approved by the TGA and included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). The decision also outlines additional limits on [the] dosage form and packaging requirements, including pack size and child-resistant closures,” it says.  Authorities have pointed out the legal oil is non-psychotropic and will not give users a ‘high.’  CBD is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the marijuana plant. Contrary to THC, it does not stimulate cerebral high.

As recent research suggests, the non-psychoactive compound significantly boosts blood flow to the hippocampus, a part of the brain which has a critical role in memory, learning, and emotions.  While adults in Australia can now supply a maximum dose of 150 mg over-the-counter without a doctor’s prescription, the TGA has warned in its approval that pregnant women should not use it. 

News outlets further pointed out that before starting a new medical treatment, people should consult their physician. Medical cannabis expert Ben Jansen welcomed the easier availability of cannabidiol, which, he told The West Australian, has a range of applications. “It provides a reduction of pain symptoms of anxiety, improves overall wellbeing, fending off other side effects like anti-inflammatory drugs or paracetamol,” he said.  The oil would typically be taken orally with food, and it takes a couple of days before taking effect.

Medical cannabis crops in Mullaway, Australia, Photo credit: Mullaways - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

When was medical cannabis legalized in Australia?

Aussies have traditionally been subjected to stringent punitive measures on the use and possession of marijuana. Over the last decade, views on the plant’s usage have seen a significant favorable shift, claiming that strict measures do more damage than they do good. In turn, the changing perception has fueled politicians to take a supportive stance on the use of cannabis, so finally, on 29 February 2016, following royal assent, the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 legalized the plant at the federal level, for medical cultivation, production, and distribution.

The next year, another major step represented the 2017 Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), which legalized low THC hemp food use on the seventh continent territory. On 25 September 2018, the Australia Capital Territory, which includes the capital Canberra, passed a bill allowing for possession and growth of small amounts of cannabis for personal use as of 31 January 2020.

However, this law has conflicted with federal law, which still prohibits recreational use, and the supply of cannabis and cannabis seeds is not permitted under the changes. As perception has evolved, so has the number of Australian citizens who support full legalization. In 2016, 74% of Australians aged 14 years and over said possession of cannabis should not be treated as a criminal offense.

Australia has also witnessed a big spike in online marijuana merchandise sales in recent years. While bongs, pipes, and vaporizers represent the most purchased items from online vendors, it attests to another Aussie preference - that using these high-quality methods of inhaling marijuana smoke are favored over the classic king-size rolling paper joint.

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