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Is CBD Oil Legal in Australia?

 

 

Cannabidiol oil (better known as CBD) is currently a huge health trend worldwide. You can find CBD in everything from beauty products, to gin and beer, massage oils, chewing gum, and even Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

Medically speaking, CBD has been shown that it may have effects on anxiety and mood, spasticity, seizures, gut and other inflammation in the body, chronic pain, and more.

But in Australia, access to medicinal cannabis (including CBD) is a bit more restricted. While other countries allow for CBD to be sold over the counter, online or in retail shops, Australians can only legally access it via one of two schemes, the Special Access Scheme or Authorised Prescriber Scheme – both of which require an application and authorisation from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and a prescription from your doctor.

And no – ordering your CBD oil from another country into Australia isn’t legal, sorry folks.

 

The Difference Between Hemp and Cannabis Derived CBD

Now, what about hemp-derived CBD? That has to be legal, right? First, let’s break down the difference between the two.

Cannabis (often referred to as marijuana) and hemp are two varieties of the same plant species, cannabis sativa.

Since they share the same species name, consumers and patients find it confusing to distinguish between their differences and benefits.

Simply put, both hemp and “marijuana” (let’s call it cannabis from now on – that’s a whole other blog post!) can produce high amounts of CBD (about 20-25%), the non-intoxicating cannabis compound; however, THC is produced at very different levels.

Legally speaking, hemp produced in Australia can contain no more than 0.3% THC in dry weight. Conversely, when produced for medical patients in Australia through the previously mentioned access schemes, cannabis strains can be bred to contain up to 30% THC content,

In addition, hemp and cannabis can often appear indistinguishable from one another – the main difference is that hemp is often grown outdoors and cannabis is grown indoors or in a greenhouse in a very different controlled environment.

 

CBD from Hemp is still good for me though, right?

Now there are two things to note that are important for our medical patients. Firstly, cannabis cultivars contain many other chemical compounds than hemp cultivars (another word for strains).

CBD on its own is CBD – regardless of the source, but what we are looking for is not just CBDwe want a full spectrum extract that contains all LOT of other compounds.

Unlike hemp, which only contain trace amounts of other compounds, cannabis cultivars contain over 700 other chemical compounds like cannabinoids (THC and CBD are only 2 of about 120 cannabinoids), terpenes and flavonoids – and although there is a lot of work to be done in figuring out which other compounds help with which ailments, we can attest from experience that full-spectrum CBD cannabis extracts (not CBD isolates or synthetics) are providing a lot more positive outcomes without the side effects we are seeing from CBD isolates.

For those that are interested in liquid chromatography, learning more about the production of hempseed oil, check out Cannabinoid Profiling of Hemp Seed Oil which explains that when oil is extracted from the seeds of the Hemp Plant (no cannabinoids in seeds, only on outer shell), only trace amounts may end up in the actual oil).

Secondly, a therapeutic dose of CBD for most patients can be anywhere from 10-20mg. Many of the “CBD products” like hempseed oil, or CBD-infused water sold in Australia (or other countries) contain far less than 10-20mg, so as cool as it sounds to be able to sip CBD water – it may only contain <1mg of CBD oil, meaning it’s unlikely to have any medicinal effect.

In addition, as most of these products are unregulated, you don’t actually know what you’re getting!

A study by the UK’s Centre for Medical Cannabis found that 11 of 29 CBD products sold on the UK High Street contain only half the CBD they claim on the label. One product, retailing at £90 (about $160), had none in it at all, and 45 per cent of the products also contained more THC than allowed by law, making them technically illegal.

 

Can I order CBD or Hemp products from other Countries?

In Australia CBD remains at Schedule 4, regardless if it’s extracted from hemp or cannabis. But what about hempseed oil, hemp seeds, hemp protein powder and all of that fun stuff? Is that legal?

Hempseed oil has been around for decades and legally sold at health food stores for both cooking and beauty products – we’ve recently seen an explosion in Australia for hemp-infused foods and beauty products as well. However, when CBD and Hemp are put side by side, a lot of misleading labeling happens.

 

To be clear, in Australia, you may legally possess or import (without a prescription):

  • Hulled hemp seeds
  • Hemp seed meal
  • Hemp fibre
  • Hemp seed oil if:
    • the total cannabidiol (CBD) content of the hemp seed oil is 0.0075% (75mg/kg) or less, and
    • the total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of the oil is 0.005% (50mg/kg) or less

To do some quick math, a capsule containing 1000mg of hemp seed oil would need to contain less than 0.075 mg of CBD to be legal. Again, not medically relevant.

 

How do I tell the difference?

To ensure you are getting a quality assured and tested CBD oil for your medical condition – the only way is through a legal, TGO93 approved company through your doctor in Australia (see below for steps on how to do this).

Unfortunately, with this green rush, some retail brands will label products “cannabis-infused” and since CBD and hempseed oil are in the same cannabis family, they’re often incorrectly marketed as the same thing.

Whether intentional or not, with the hype around CBD, people are willing to pay more for CBD oil, which is much more expensive when compared to hempseed oil.

To really know the difference, you need to read the label. Hemp seed oil will be listed as cannabis sativa seed oil. CBD will be listed as cannabidiol, full-spectrum hemp, hemp oil, or PCR (phytocannabinoid rich) hemp extracts.

 

Is CBD Safe to Use?

A lot of our patients are using hemp seed oils with very little CBD in them. Although they may have some therapeutic benefit, as hemp-seed oil is quite healthy as it has balanced amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and a lot of other minerals and nutrients.

If you’re looking to use CBD as a medicine, you are much better off using a prescription-based cannabis-derived oil that can supply the levels of CBD you need to have medical benefits, and also have a physician monitor you while you take it.

While The World Health Organization reported in 2018 that CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential, or really many side effects other than drowsiness in large doses (and maybe some diarrhea, soz!), researchers still aren’t completely sure of the long-term effects.

An incredibly important note is that CBD affects an enzyme in the liver that metabolises about 90 per cent of the prescription medications we take. This could alter the dose of the medication you are taking, which needs to be monitored by a medical professional. If you’re buying it from another country, you really have no such protection (and it could easily have THC or other nastiest in it, yikes!).

 

How to Access a CBD Oil Prescription in Australia

That’s where we come in – we help patients access medical cannabis across Australia in a simple and straightforward process.

 

Get in touch with one of our friendly nurses by calling our toll free line at the top of this page, or emailing [email protected] to see if CBD oil could be appropriate for your condition.

Tetra Health is product agnostic, meaning we have access to any legal CBD oil in Australia for medical purposes – which means a lot of options for different symptoms and conditions.

Keep in mind, right now, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3-$10 a day, but these prices are set to drop as more domestic suppliers enter the market.

 

Interested in Getting started? This is how the process works with Tetra!

Book An Appointment Process - Medical Cannabis Clinic Australia - Tetra Health