Despite medicinal cannabis being legal in Australia not many know how to access CBD oil. Here, Tetra Health explains how to get CBD oil in Australia.
Is CBD Legal in Australia?
Cannabidiol (better known as CBD) is currently a huge health trend worldwide. You can find CBD overseas in everything from beauty products, to gin and beer, massage oils, chewing gum, and maybe even Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in the near future.
Medically speaking, CBD has been shown to 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 some 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 the Authorised Prescriber Scheme – both of which require an application and authorisation from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and a prescription from your doctor.
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, people 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 contain high amounts of CBD (about 20-25%), the non-intoxicating cannabis compound; however, THC is produced at high levels only by cannabis plants.
Legally speaking, hemp produced in Australia can contain no more than 0.3% THC in dry weight. Conversely, when produced for medicinal cannabis patients in Australia through the previously mentioned access schemes, cannabis strains can be bred to contain up to 30% THC.
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 either indoors or in a greenhouse in a very different controlled environment.
Is CBD from Hemp Effective?
There are two things to note that are important for medical patients. Firstly, cannabis cultivars (or strains) contain many other chemical compounds that are not found in hemp cultivars.
CBD on its own is CBD – regardless of the source, but there are many patients who will not need just CBD – they may need a broad or full spectrum extract that contains a LOT of other compounds.
Unlike hemp, which only contain trace amounts of other compounds, cannabis cultivars contain over 700 other chemical compounds such as other cannabinoids (THC and CBD are only two of about 120 cannabinoids), terpenes and flavonoids – and although there is a lot of work to be done in figuring out which compound helps with which ailments, some studies have shown that full-spectrum CBD cannabis extracts (not CBD isolates or synthetics) can provide better positive outcomes for some patients with particular medical conditions.
Secondly, a therapeutic dose of CBD for patients can be anywhere from 1-20 mg/kg/day. This means that the average patient needs 70-1400 mg of CBD per day. Many of the “CBD products” such as hemp seed oil, or CBD-infused water sold in other countries, contain far less than 1-20 mg in total. So as cool as it sounds to be able to sip CBD water – it may only contain <1 mg of CBD, 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 Centre for Medicinal Cannabis in the UK found that 11 of 29 CBD products sold on the UK High Street contained only half the CBD they claimed 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?
CBD In Australia remains at Schedule 4, regardless of whether it’s extracted from hemp or cannabis. But what about hemp seed oil, hemp seeds, hemp protein powder and all of that fun stuff? Is that legal?
Hemp seed oil has been around for decades and legally sold at health food stores for cooking and in beauty products – we’ve recently seen an explosion of these products in Australia. However, when CBD from cannabis and CBD from 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% (75 mg/kg) or less, and
- the total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of the oil is 0.005% (50 mg/kg) or less
To do some quick math, a capsule containing 1000 mg 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 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 cannabis and hemp CBD 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 hemp seed oil, because it actually contains CBD.
To really know the difference, you need to read the label. Hemp 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.
But hemp seed oil and CBD oil are very different. CBD oil is classified as “medicinal cannabis” and contains CBD, which has several potential health benefits. On the other hand, hemp seed oil DOES NOT CONTAIN CBD. It does have nutrients and fatty acids that have health benefits, but not the same health benefits as CBD.
Is CBD Safe to Use?
A lot of patients are using hemp seed oils with no CBD. They may have some health benefits in that hemp seed oil 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 need to use 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 any side effects in large doses other than drowsiness (and maybe some diarrhoea), researchers still aren’t completely sure of the long-term effects.
It is very important to note 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, or from a local illegal supplier, you really have no such protection (and it could easily have THC or other contaminants, such as heavy metals).
CBD Oil Prescription: Where to Buy CBD Oil in Australia?
That’s where we come in – Tetra doctors assess patients across Australia and prescribe a number of different treatments 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 by emailing [email protected] to be assessed for a treatment for your condition.
Tetra Health is product agnostic, meaning we have access to any legal medications in Australia for medical purposes – which means a lot of options for different symptoms and conditions.
Keep in mind, right now, that if your Tetra doctor does prescribe medicinal cannabis, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3-10 a day for your medication, but these prices are set to drop as more domestic suppliers enter the market.