This is the complete guide to help you buy CBD oil in Australia! In most states in Australia, GPs and specialists can prescribe CBD oil. You’ve probably met its mate, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC aka the one that makes you high) but what about CBD? Inner North Medical Clinic support the use of Medicinal Cannabis for a range of medical conditions; we’re located in Northern Melbourne (Lygon St, Brunswick East).
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 in Australia is being used to help manage a wide range of conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and other conditions.
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.
CBD is only one single atom arrangement away from being THC.
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:
- non-intoxicating (no “high”)
What is CBD oil Good For?
CBD can help treat symptoms for people who suffer from conditions such as:
- Chronic Pain
- Anxiety & Depression
- Irritable bowel syndrome
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 mislabeled. 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. 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 Authorized 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 Authorized 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.
What’s the deal with getting and using CBD oil in Australia?
What you and your mates potentially know as CBD oil is actually cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis/word you’ll probably have to try pronounce at least twice.
You’ve probably met its mate, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC aka the one that makes you ≋h≋i≋g≋h≋) but CBD will not get you stoned. (Unless you’ve got it from somewhere slightly dodgy and you’re not 100% sure about the THC content).
So to be clear, CBD is used for medical reasons and NOT Reefer Madness. What kind of medical reasons? According to Dr Iain McGregor, Professor of Psychopharmacology, “It’s more a case of what it doesn’t do rather than what it does.”
What’s CBD good for?
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.
“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.
Neuropharmacologist, University of Wollongong lecturer and Associate Investigator with ACRE, Dr Katrina Green, also notes that after 12,000 years of interaction between humans and cannabis, our understanding of this plant is still very much in its infancy.
“CBD is obviously pretty important. Its anti-inflammatory capacity and its ability to protect the brain is evident in almost every study that you pick up.”
She finds these anti-inflammatory effects, even in low doses of cannabidiol, especially exciting since inflammation kind of underlies everything. “Low levels of inflammation are involved in body weight gain, if you pull a muscle. there’s such wide ranging benefits to anti-inflammatories.”
“There’s evidence, particularly in illnesses of the brain, that it does work,” she says. So depression, anxiety, ADHD, tourettes, PTSD, different aspects of psychosis — for those type of things the evidence consistently shows that there’s benefits. CBD is not as great with pain, she says, because you kind of need THC to get any pain benefits.
But CBD research takes money, something which scientists are notoriously short on. And ideally they’d be able to grow their own products here to research but that would take less regulation, something which governments are notoriously fond of.
So, what’s legally available in Australia?
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.
“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.
CBD has recently changed from Schedule 4 (prescription only) to Schedule 3, which means you should be able to get low dose CBD (max.150 mg daily dose) over the counter at your local pharmacy.
However, there are currently no TGA approved products on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) that meet the Schedule 3 criteria. And that process of approval could take years.
How do you actually get CBD oil?
“CBD got caught up in the whole medical cannabis legalisation thing that happened from late 2016,” Dr Iain explains. As part of that, there was a “torturous process” set up for Australians to access CBD, whereby you had to go through a doctor, hope said doctor is educated about CBD and is in favour of its use, then persuade them that CBD is right for you, then they would need to write a complicated application and send that off to Canberra to the TGA who would then decide either way.
The difference now is that Authorised Prescribers (AP) don’t need to apply to the TGA via the Special Access Scheme (SAS), they can write you a prescription on the spot. These APs can be either specialists or a GP, but there’s no full list right now, so your best bet is to start making some enquiries.
Of course, if you do go that route, there’s the issue of cost, which is prohibitive for a lot of people. Sitting at about $10-$15 a day, “you’d probably find it’s cheaper to grow your own (and a lot of people do).”
As of 2020, out of the approvals issued in total in over three years, Dr Iain estimated that about 20,000 patients gained access legally (when you take into account the prescription renewals throughout that time). “And there’s probably 10 times more people — certainly from our surveys — that are accessing illicit cannabis and self-medicating.”
So yeah, the government and researchers are well aware that a lot of people in Australia are opting to bypass the current system and spend their money offshore, buying online from places like Canada and the US. But there are signs that prices will go down, since obviously there’s an increasingly competitive market for it.
Already there’s countless overseas companies taking an interest in selling to Aussies. “They see it as perhaps the fastest growing market in the world, even though it’s a small population the numbers add up,” says Dr Iain.
“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!”
The good news in all of this, agree both experts, is that that strict regime tends to ensure high quality control of the product. “By being careful and quite well regulated the Australian scheme is probably going to give rise to very good products that will have a lot of export potential,” says Dr Iain. “The unfortunate thing is, Australian consumers are having to wait a very long time to get these products and at a reasonable price.”
On top of that, your average over the counter product that’ll be available here will have relatively low concentrations of CBD. So, if you’re getting an oil that has maybe 30 milligrams per mil, your average daily dose is probably less than 100 milligrams of CBD. However, clinical trials and research suggest that effective doses for things like anxiety and psychosis tend to be a lot higher, they tend to be up around 500-1000 milligrams, which causes Dr Iain beg the question: “Even if we get the over the counter products available in Australia, will they actually be any good?”
Should you believe the hype?
Dr Iain says to “watch the hype.” He points to when cocaine was first invented, when they thought it would be a great cure for opium addiction and you could just chuck it in any old fizzy drink. “You always get this huge hype [around new drugs] and you do have to let research run its course. Big clinical trials take several years so complete; five years from now we’ll know a lot more about CBD and it’s potentials and limitations.”
There’s also the placebo effect to consider, so after weeks of use the shine may wear off and the expenditure may seem less worth it.
“The hype is almost certainly wrong. The idea that it’s just a placebo is almost certainly wrong, as well. So the truth is somewhere in between. What we have to do as scientists is work out what that truth actually is.”
As a neuroscientist, Dr Katrina is particularly interested in the developing brain and the short term and long term effects of cannabidiol use on it. “A lot of people say that CBD is non-psychoactive but psychoactive is defined as something that interacts with the brain and changes behaviour. Now that applies to THC, alcohol, heroin, whatever. CBD is absolutely psychoactive, it’s just psychoactive in a good way.”
“What is concerning. as CBD becomes more available companies will inevitably jump on board to try and make a dollar out of it. This is the hype that I’m concerned about,” she says.
Especially when it comes to younger brains and an increasingly casual use of cannabis products, Dr Katrina advises: “Just remember cannabidiol is a medicine.”
“We’re saying that it’s beneficial for all of these illnesses, it’s not just a wellness substance like a vitamin C.” She recommends only taking it if you actually need to for genuine dysfunction or illness, not as a supplement, and to exercise “a little bit of caution when ordering things from overseas or using as a daily tonic”
CBD & Cannabis Clinic Brunswick East
We support the use of Medicinal Cannabis for a range of medical conditions.
Our Cannabis prescribing Doctors are experts in the Endocannabinoid system and can help you identify which products are likely to be suitable for you.
The pathway to Cannabinoid prescription involves a consultation with one of our Cannabis Clinic Doctors, who are Authorised Prescribers of these products. CBD clinic runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Cannabis, particularly THC, is a Schedule 8 medication and is regulated by the Federal Government, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and the state-based Department of Health Services (DHS). Access to medicinal cannabis requires TGA application through SAS B permit system, or through Authorised Prescriber authority. Reporting to the TGA is mandatory for each prescribing Doctor.
Once granted, permits are valid for 12 – 24 months.
To access a prescription, make an appointment through our Cannabis Clinic to see one of our Authorised Prescribing Doctors.
For further information, check out the Melbourne Medicinal Cannabis Network.
About Medicinal Cannabis
Cannabis has been used in various forms in both ancient and modern times for a vast array of conditions. Medical research into the medicinal use of cannabis is currently relatively limited, however, more and more studies are being performed on the use of medicinal cannabis to treat a number of conditions.
More than 100 different cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis, however, there are 2 main compounds that are medically important: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Medicinal cannabis products have different actions depending on the ratio of THC to CBD. CBD acts to balance out the psychoactive effects of THC, so combining CBD with THC allows a larger dose of THC with limited psychoactive side effects.
THC and CBD have the exact same molecule make up, with slight difference in how their atoms are arranged to give a slightly different molecular structure. THC is the main psychoactive compound of Cannabis that produces the ‘high’ sensation. Although CBD is psychoactive, it does not produce a ‘high’, instead helping with anxiety, depression and seizures.
THC and CBD are chemically similar to normal existing endocannabinoids neurotransmitters in the human body.
THC binds to Cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain, producing a sense of euphoria, or a ‘high’. CBD binds weakly, if at all, to these CB1 receptions. CBD needs THC to bind to the CB1 receptor, and can help reduce some of the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC (such as euphoria or sedation). CBD is very well tolerated, even in large doses.
Medicinal Cannabis is utilised to treat a variety of medical conditions, with differing CBD/THC components used for different issues.
1. CBD Dominant
Seizures, Inflammation, Chronic Pain, Psychosis or mental disorders, Inflammatory bowel disease, Nausea, Migraine, Depression, Anxiety
2. THC Dominant
Chronic pain, Muscle Spasticity, Glaucoma, Insomnia, Low appetite, Nausea, Anxiety
3. Balanced Dose
Anxiety, Tremor, Migraine, PTSD, Insomnia, Arthritis, Nausea, Vomiting, Chronic Pain
Drug Testing & Driving
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are stored in adipose tissue, the bodies fat cells, and can be detected for several days or weeks after using them.
Most standard drug tests look for chemicals related to THC, however, CBD sensitive tests also exist.
In Victoria, it is an offence to drive with any amount of THC in your system. Driving is allowed with CBD only medications.
Patients taking CBD only medicines can drive lawfully, as long as they are not impaired.
Legally you are not allowed to drive with detectable THC in your system.
Consultation for permit application is an initial $55 out of pocket, with permit application itself costing the patient $200. Permit application is required for first script.
Permits are valid for 24 months.
The script and permit are then taken to a registered Pharmacy. The cost of the product is roughly between $150 – $250 payable to the pharmacist on dispensation.
A free telehealth consultation is conducted 2 weeks post initial prescription. This appointment is booked by the Doctors during initial consultation.
Further consultations have a standard consultation fee of $55 out of pocket. Additional follow up prescriptions attract a cost of $150.
For further information regarding Endocannabinioid Clinic at INMC check this info sheet out..