CBD Oil can only legally be purchased in Australia after getting a script from a health professional. Learn about safety, access & more. 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).
CBD Oil Australia: Where & How To Buy CBD (Legally)
There’s a lot of misinformation about where and how to buy CBD oil in Australia. You can legally purchase low-dose CBD over the counter but it’s not available just yet. You can’t buy CBD online but will be able to in the future. In this article you’ll learn about where and how to purchase CBD oil right now in Australia.
Buying CBD Oil In Australia
Medical cannabis and CBD Oil are becoming increasingly popular in Australia. As the cannabis space grows, so does the amount of information and misinformation. New legal cannabis and medical cannabis companies, cannabis clinics and hemp-based product companies are constantly popping up online.
With the media pumping out titles that are eye/ear-catching and stretching the truth, it’s hard to know what’s legal and illegal in the Australian cannabis and CBD oil space. We get the question, “Where can I buy CBD oil in Australia?” followed by “I’ve heard I can buy it…” too often. The goal of this article is to uncover the truth about buying CBD legally in Australia.
In short, CBD Oil is legal via a healthcare professional’s prescription and over the counter via a pharmacist. However, you will not find any products in pharmacies (over the counter) yet because no cannabis products currently meet the TGA guidelines to be sold in pharmacies.
In this article, you’ll learn about the current state of prescription CBD oil and what you need to know about low dose over the counter CBD oil. We’ll also explain the often misunderstood topic of the personal importation scheme. Here’s an index in case you’d like to jump ahead:
Definition of cannabis oil in Australia
To understand why you can’t just pop into a local chemist to purchase CBD off the shelf, you need to know how CBD oil and cannabis are defined locally.
The TGA is clear on its definition of cannabis oil. They place cannabis oil into two categories:
- Hemp oil
- Hemp seed oil
Hemp oil (CBD Oil included)
Hemp oil is what you would likely call CBD oil. The TGA defines it as, “oil made from the green matter of the cannabis plant, usually containing a combination of CBD and THC. This is sometimes also called cannabis extract or ‘hash oil’, and is a form of medicinal cannabis.”
This hemp oil is what a doctor might prescribe to you if you were successful in accessing medical cannabis. And, these substances are regulated and scheduled as Schedule 3 (over the counter via pharmacist), Schedule 4 or Schedule 8 drugs when purchased legally.
Hemp seed oil – NOT CBD Oil.
Hemp seed oil is often what you’d purchase from a food supplier, a speciality hemp food store or even some health and beauty businesses. The TGA defines this as “being made by pressing the seeds of a cannabis plant, and usually does not contain either THC or CBD.”
The TGA clarifies that some hemp seed oils containing negligible or zero CBD or THC and are legal to access without prescription. However, products that are available without prescription must comply with Food Standard Codes and Import Requirements.
So, now you probably think that the hemp seed oil rules give you an out – a way to purchase CBD oil without a prescription or even import it overseas. But, unfortunately, the answer is no; you cannot buy CBD oil in Australia without a prescription.
Where can I legally buy CBD oil in Australia?
At the moment there is only one option. To access CBD oil, which falls under the umbrella of medical cannabis, you must get a prescription from a health professional. There are a couple of different ways to do this, which we explain in our article titled “How to access medical cannabis“. You can go through the following channels:
- Your GP, Specialist or Nurse Practitioner (in some jurisdictions)
- An authorised prescriber
- Cannabis clinics
We’ll explain the process in a bit more detail below. If you’re looking for a local prescriber, you can visit our find a cannabis doctor tool and search by your postcode. We also have a list of cannabis clinics.
The TGA has also approved low dose CBD to be sold over the counter. However, no cannabis products in Australia currently meet the requirements for sale in pharmacies. If you’re interested in being notified of when the first products are available in pharmacies, you can sign up for our newsletter below:
Learn more about cannabis and help create positive change. Sign up to receive updates on legal CBD in Australia.
Please be aware of Australian companies that claim to be selling CBD Oil online – they are either doing so illegally or aren’t really selling CBD oil.
Now we’ll cover two topics that are often misunderstood, the personal importation scheme and traveller’s exemption.
Does the Personal Importation Scheme or Travellers exemption allow for the importation of CBD oil?
No. According to the TGA rules, the personal importation scheme does not apply to cannabis in any form.
The traveller’s exemption is an option for individuals travelling into Australia with a legal prescription for medicinal cannabis. For the traveller’s exemption to apply, the product must be a therapeutic good supplied for medical treatment by a medical practitioner. The product must also have been dispensed in accordance with the prescription (i.e. dispensed through a pharmacist, rather than supplied through some other form of retail or other mechanisms).
In theory, under these guidelines, to use the traveller’s exemption, an individual living in Australia would need to have a prescription from an overseas doctor who dispensed the products to them via a pharmacy and then imported them, along with their prescription.
Here’s what can be imported
The office of drug control’s documentation on Hemp and CBD products makes everything more transparent. While it relates to importation, the regulations also clarify what CBD levels are legal in products. In addition, the guidelines state that you may import certain hemp products without permission and others require either a permit or a prescription.
The products you can import without permission are:
- Hulled hemp seeds
- Hemp seed meal
- Hemp fibre
- Hemp seed oil (if it meets the criteria)
Remember that hemp oil is considered a scheduled drug in some cases. If hemp seed oil meets the following qualifications, it is not a scheduled drug:
- 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
It’s important to note that CBD would have no health benefits at this concentration in an oil or tincture.
Now that you understand how to buy CBD oil legally, we’ll explain the specific laws around CBD in Australia.
Understanding CBD oil via pharmacy
As of 1 February 2021, it became legal for medicinal cannabis companies to sell low dose CBD Oil over the counter via pharmacists Australia-wide. Unfortunately, to do this, the products must be registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) and meet other requirements.
These products need to go through clinical trials and be proven both safe and effective. The trial process can take up to 12 months. They must then be approved, which can take up to another 12 months. So, we probably won’t see low dose CBD in pharmacies until at least 2023.
Understanding CBD oil via prescription
Any doctor in Australia can prescribe medical cannabis which includes CBD Oil. The patient process is straightforward and can be summarised into 3 steps:
Whether you choose your regular GP, a new doctor or a clinic, the steps you’ll take as a patient are similar. First, you’ll see your doctor, who will assess your eligibility. They will then write you a prescription on the spot if an Authorised Prescriber (AP) or apply to the TGA via the Special Access Scheme (SAS) to write you a prescription.
While most doctors and clinics charge a couple of hundred dollars for the appointments, the application process is not complex for prescribers. If a doctor attempts to charge an application fee of hundreds of dollars, look elsewhere.
The time you see your prescriber to the time you have your medication is, on average, about two weeks. Note: it’s recommended you do product research before going to your doctor. Research the legal cannabis products available in Australia so you know what’s available.
If your doctor or nurse practitioner doesn’t know how to prescribe cannabis, please send them to this how to prescribe medicinal cannabis article.
Buying CBD from online overseas companies
Various Australian websites provide links to reputable overseas websites where you can purchase CBD oil. And, while many countries allow the purchase of CBD online, buying CBD online overseas and shipping it to Australia is technically illegal.
Many Australians decide that they’d prefer to go this route due to the perceived cost of cannabis in Australia. But, surprisingly, the price of legally prescribed CBD oil in Australia is on par with many overseas brands on a cost per mg level.
Since mid-2020, Australian customs has been seizing an increased number of shipments from overseas. We’ve even seen reports of people receiving letters from the government saying that their products had been confiscated. While these people never had any severe legal repercussions, it caused anxiety and probably isn’t worth the risk.
If you do decide to purchase CBD oil from overseas, we have two recommendations:
- Do your research and make sure that you’re buying products from a highly reputable company willing to provide third-party testing documentation.
- Check the total cost of the CBD oil you’re purchasing and compare that to the cost of legal CBD oil in Australia.
What about buying CBD from local online shops?
Every couple of months, we hear about new online Australian shops that claim to be selling CBD oil and that the oil they are selling is legal.
There are two categories that these companies will fall into:
- Products that contain some CBD, in which case are illegal
- Products that don’t contain any CBD and are therefore lying to customers
If the products do contain some CBD, then the odds of the product containing what’s listed are very low.
Suppose you do purchase a product and don’t find any benefit from that product. In that case, it will be impossible to know whether the result is because it’s not the right product for you, you’re taking it incorrectly, or it doesn’t contain what’s listed on the label.
Consider this when buying CBD Oil
If you’re interested in purchasing CBD Oil, you are likely interested in positive health outcomes. Whether you want to help with pain, sleep, anxiety or another ailment, your goal is to improve your overall wellbeing.
While purchasing CBD oil online might seem like the easy solution, it’s technically illegal. It isn’t easy to know that you’re getting what you’ve purchased. The price of legal CBD products is reasonably close to the price of illegal CBD. Legal products are highly regulated, so you know you’re getting what’s on the label.
If you purchase a product illegally and determine that it doesn’t contain the ingredients on the label, the only thing you can do is report the company to the TGA. The TGA has a considerable backlog of cannabis-related issues they are attending to and often takes up to 12 months to action complaints. The TGA may look into the website and send a cease and desist letter. However, you’ve purchased the product illegally, so there’s nothing that you can do to get your money back.
Now you understand the legalities around CBD oil in Australia. While unfortunate, the fact is that the Australian government has categorised CBD oil as a medicine and a scheduled drug. Therefore, to get CBD oil, you must have a prescription.
Unless you have a license to import, you may not bring in CBD oil from overseas. A prescription, however, does not mean you can buy CBD oil online or from overseas.
Your only options to access CBD oil are going through a doctor, a cannabis clinic, or waiting until it becomes available over the counter.
If you found this article helpful, please feel free to share it. Also, if we’ve missed something or you need more information, please feel free to send us a question.
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..