The Complete Guide to Buy CBD Oil in Australia
CBD is increasingly becoming popular as a therapeutic and wellness product. If you’re looking to buy CBD oil in Australia, this article will help you understand the safest and easiest way to source this medication.
CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is one of two well-known chemicals found in the cannabis/marijuana plant (the other being THC). Although CBD is only one single atom arrangement away from being THC, the two have very different effects on the body.
While THC is best known for its psychoactive properties, CBD is completely non-psychoactive and is better known for its therapeutic effects. Some of these reported effects are:
This is not an exhaustive list. Although lots of anecdotal evidence exists for the use of CBD, these effects have not yet been clinically proven in randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Thus many doctors in Australia are apprehensive about prescribing CBD oil to their patients.
Is CBD Oil Legal in Australia?
CBD oil has been legal in Australia since 2016, however, currently the only available CBD products are classified as Schedule 4 drugs. This means they can only be legally obtained via a doctor’s prescription filled at a pharmacy.
The TGA announced a down scheduling to Schedule 3 for low dose Isolate only CBD products. However, Schedule 3 CBD products would need to first be listed on the ARTG and due to the stringent requirements there are still no products available for purchase in this category.
This means patients seeking access to CBD will still need to obtain a doctor’s prescription and follow the Schedule 4 pathway.
CBD products are not registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. Therefore, doctors need to apply to the TGA via the Special Access Scheme (SAS) to obtain approval for each patient. Approval usually lasts for 12 months.
Is it Legal to Buy CBD Oil Online?
No it isn’t. Although that doesn’t stop many Australians from buying CBD oil this way. Some products even contain “official” potency certificates. Such products have been proven to be low quality and inconsistent so sourcing CBD oil this way is often a waste of time and money (and also illegal!).
A recent study reviewed 4,384 products from 188 cannabidiol (CBD) brands showed only 7% of CBD brands conduct proper lab testing to test for pesticides, heavy metals and microbial contamination. Some other alarming findings from the study:
- Only 12% of brands had all their products fall within acceptable potency variance levels
- 28% of brands didn’t carry out any testing at all for pesticides
- 26% of brands didn’t test for the presence of heavy metals
- 24% didn’t test for microbes (like bacteria)
- 20% of brands carried out no purity testing on their products at all
- transparency within the CBD industry appears to be stagnating and deteriorating
There are many false claims being made by such companies with some mentioned on the TGA website. You are much better off obtaining CBD oil via the legal access pathway established in Australia for the following reasons:
Studies show that unregulated CBD bought online rarely contains the advertised amount of CBD. In one study, nearly 70 percent of CBD oils sold online were mislabelled. This would make finding your ideal dose very difficult given that each batch can vary widely.
When you take CBD oil under the guidance of a doctor, the first step (called titration) is to start with a low amount and slowly increase the dose until you find your minimum effective dose.
Once this is determined, you know exactly how many milligrams of CBD you need to take each time to get relief. How can you do this with unregulated oil if the concentration differs from batch to batch and may not even contain the advertised amount of CBD as on the label?
Products purchased online don’t have any quality assurance oversight and no regulatory standards for producing, testing, or labeling. Many of these products can contain harmful substances such as molds, toxins, heavy metals, bacteria, fungus, viruses, and pesticides.
These products are not undergoing testing by the TGA to ensure strict conformity to medical grade quality standards. Considering most people use CBD as medicine, why take this unnecessary risk?
Many people think buying unregulated CBD oil online is cheaper but this is often not the case as online CBD oils are often low quality and inconsistent. The regulated oils you get from a pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription are high quality, consistent, medical grade products.
When comparing the price of CBD oils you need to calculate the amount of CBD in milligrams. For example a 50ml bottle of 10mg/ml CBD contains 500mg of CBD. A 10ml bottle of 100mg/ml CBD contains 1000mg. The 10ml bottle even though much smaller contains twice as much CBD as the larger bottle.
The price of legal CBD in Australia has dramatically decreased in recent years and can be sourced for as low as $0.10/mg. Legal products undergo strict compliance testing to ensure the advertised CBD content is accurate.
When comparing to unregulated products, many of which have been shown to contain barely any CBD at all, is it a fair comparison when the unregulated products can print anything on the bottle with no oversight to ensure compliance?
How Much Does CBD Oil Cost in Australia?
The price you pay for CBD oil will depend on dosage which is different for everyone. The first step of the process is to start with a low amount and slowly increase the dose to determine appropriate dosing for each individual.
On average most people pay between $4-10 per day for their CBD oil medication.
On a cost per milligram basis, many legal CBD oils are now available at between $0.05-$0.10 per mg, on par and usually cheaper than non regulated black market CBD oils.
A larger bottle size does not necessarily mean better value. When comparing price you need to calculate the price per mg as oils can vary in concentration.
For example, a 50ml bottle of CBD 50mg/ml will contain 2500mg of CBD. A 30ml bottle of CBD 100mg/ml contains 3000mg of CBD. The 30ml is much smaller yet contains more medication and you will need to take smaller quantities.
What Medical Conditions can be Treated with CBD oil?
In practice, CBD oil is usually prescribed to treat chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and insomnia when first line treatments have failed. CBD acts on speciﬁc targets found in the body known as cannabinoid receptors.
These receptors are involved in the regulation of many functions including:
Brain and nervous system activity, heart rate and blood pressure, digestion, inﬂammation, immune system activity, perception of pain, reproduction, wake/sleep cycle, regulation of stress and emotional state as well as many other functions.
A 2017 report from the World Health Organization provides a long list of medical conditions for which CBD may have therapeutic benefits, however, more research is needed before making definitive conclusions.
Who is a CBD Authorised Prescriber?
Some doctors can prescribe under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme which means they don’t need to apply to the TGA to prescribe specific CBD products each time, however the process to become an Authorised Prescriber is time consuming and onerous so some doctors still prefer to prescribe via the SAS.
Is CBD Oil and Hemp Seed Oil the Same?
Hemp and CBD are not the same thing. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous marketers use the terms interchangeably to try and capitalizes on CBD’s popularity.
Hemp seed oil may definitely have health benefits (notably Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids) but there is so little CBD in hemp seed oil (~0.0075%) that a therapeutic effect is not possible.
CBD is a controlled registered medicine in Australia so it cannot be legally sold directly without a prescription. Hemp seed products that contain less than 0.01% CBD are allowed to be sold directly without a prescription but 0.01% is an insignificant, far from therapeutic amount.
How much CBD oil do you need? What happens if you use too much CBD oil?
Everyone responds to CBD oil differently. After obtaining a CBD oil prescription, patients start with a very low dose and gradually increase the amount to determine the minimum effective dose needed to achieve a therapeutic effect.
This process of gradually increasing the dose is called titration. CBD can interact with other medications so it’s best to conduct the titration process under the supervision of a doctor.
What Are The Different Types of CBD Oil?
There are generally 3 different types of CBD oils: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate.
Full spectrum CBD oil comes from the full plant extract containing the complete profile of cannabinoids, terpenes and other natural compounds that occur naturally in cannabis.
Many proponents of the ‘entourage effect’ believe the therapeutic potential is highest since all the compounds work synergistically to achieve better therapeutic outcomes.
Full spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of THC (usually 1-3%) This is generally not enough THC to cause any impairment, however, this small amount can still show up in saliva, urine and blood tests.
Unfortunately, even prescribed medical cannabis does not currently exempt patients from roadside drug testing and patients who test positive could face legal sanctions.
Broad spectrum CBD oil is full spectrum CBD oil that undergoes further refinements to remove the trace amounts of THC.
The final product still contains all the cannabinoids, terpenes and other natural compounds that occur naturally in the cannabis plant, but does not contain any THC.
Broad spectrum CBD oil is ideal for those Australians looking to benefit from the ‘entourage effect’ while still being legally able to drive without the risk of testing positive for THC.
CBD Isolate is a further refined product where all the other minor cannabinoids, terpenes and natural compounds are removed.
As the name implies, CBD isolate is a singular extracted compound that only contains pure CBD.
Isolate is widely prescribed in Australia given the strict roadside drug testing regulations that do not accommodate for full spectrum CBD products and until recently, there were not many broad spectrum CBD oils available.
Recent changes in regulations to allow for CBD over the counter sales will only allow CBD Isolate products.
Can you get CBD oil from your doctor?
In most states in Australia, most GPs and specialists can prescribe CBD oil. However, they will need to apply under the special access scheme.
If your doctor is unwilling to apply on your behalf or uncomfortable prescribing medical cannabis, they can refer you to our clinic. We do virtual consultations nationwide and in-person at our flagship clinic in Sydney.
Click here for a quick online eligibility test to see if you qualify.
You can also call us at (02) 9098 9128 or email us at [email protected] and we can advise if medical cannabis could be an option for your condition.