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Over-the-counter sale of low dose cannabidiol is now legal in Australia, but products may be stalled

The latest change in Australia’s medicinal cannabis regulation came into effect last week, however it could be until 2023 before patients are able to access low dose cannabis oil over the counter. As of the 1st of February, it is now legal to purchase up to 150mg a day of low dose cannabidiol (CBD) without a prescription in Australia following the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) announcement in December. Despite this progress, no such products have been approved for sale yet meaning that Australians will be in for a wait before their local pharmacies are able to sell low dose cannabis oil without a doctor’s prescription. The law change was opposed by the Australian Medical Association and a spokesperson has confirmed that the association had not changed its position.

Cannabidiol is an active ingredient in cannabis that doesn’t make a user high but there remains a widespread misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding medicinal cannabis.

"This an exciting move forward, making the non-psychoactive, non-addictive cannabinoid CBD more accessible for patients in Australia wanting to treat a wide variety of ailments" - Will Douglas, NUBU Pharmaceuticals

Dr Ben Jansen, the director and founder of Cannabis Doctors Australia, spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald sharing his finding that medicinal cannabis had been life-changing for about a quarter of patients.

“We know it works, but we want to find out how well it works.” he said.

Contrary to misconceptions, he has found that the vast number of CBD users are middle-aged women seeking pain relief for conditions such as inflammatory arthritis.

Mr Sclavos, a pharmacist who has specialised in medicinal cannabis, said the decision to allow pharmacies to dispense cannabidiol without a prescription was a major move forward for a “whole cohort of patients”.

Sclavos had seen first-hand the “incredible improvement in the quality of life” that medical cannabis could deliver to a range of patients, including epileptics.

According to Jansen, it could take “at least two million dollars and the appropriate data before (a product) can be registered for use for distribution by a pharmacist.”

Registering a product is a time-consuming process as companies will need to demonstrate that the products are high quality, safe and efficacious.

Therefore, it is likely that products may not appear on shelves until 2022.

"As further research results show the comprehensive benefits of this cannabinoid, NUBU along with other industry stakeholders will be watching this progress closely." - Will Douglas, NUBU Pharmaceuticals
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