Cannabis oil might soon be available in your local pharmacy after Australia’s medical regulator relaxed some of the requirements around its sale in the country.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has made an interim decision lowering poison classification for an oil derived from the cannabis plant, known as cannabidiol (CBD).
This means, if the decision stands after consultation, cannabidiol could be available as an over-the-counter purchase by as early as mid-2021.
The decision still includes restrictions, however. The oils would need to warn users of a daily limit of 60 milligrams, not be sold with more than 30 days’ supply and be restricted to those aged 18 years and over.
Consultations close on October 13 and, if the decision still stands, the path toward prescription-less cannabidiols in Australia would become easier. Producers of the product would still be required to submit to the TGA for approvals and the states and territories would also have to agree to adopt the changes. If all the pieces land into place, it would come into effect by June 1, 2021.
It marks an important step for those using the oil as a medical treatment for illnesses such as anxiety and epilepsy.
The health benefits of cannabis without the high
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a key component of the marijuana plant, according to Harvard Medical School, but don’t expect to get a high from it.
That’s because CBD is instead harvested from the hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant that does not produce a human high, and commonly turned into an edible oil.
The World Health Organisation has even said in a 2017 report there’s no evidence of CBD’s use being harmful and addictive. Instead, it’s considered to have therapeutic benefits for a number of diseases, including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease as well as mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.
The TGA itself accepts these potential health benefits but cautions most of the research conducted on them has been poorly undertaken.
“There is a significant need for larger, high-quality studies to explore the potential benefits, limitations and safety issues associated with medicinal cannabis treatment across a range of health conditions and symptoms,” the TGA’s patient information page on the drug reads.
“If more studies support medicinal cannabis use and provide evidence for particular forms, dosages and administration methods, it is more likely that doctors will feel confident in prescribing medicinal cannabis over other approved options.”
The TGA’s latest move suggests this understanding has developed into something it feels more comfortable supporting. Something many sufferers wanting easier access to CBD will likely rejoice.