Is it legal? Is it available?
Many people with HSP are interested in the potential for the medical use of cannabidiol oil (CBD), a cannabis derivative, to help with the symptoms of spasticity, restless legs and pain.
Here is a recent news article on the topic from the ABC:
As of 2015 CBD oil is legal in Australia, as long as it contains at least 98% cannabidiol and 2% or less of other cannabinoids found in cannabis. When compared to a lot of other countries, like the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Netherlands, we’re quite behind.
CBD has recently changed from Schedule 4 (prescription only) to Schedule 3, which means you should be able to get low dose CBD (max.150 mg daily dose) over the counter at your local pharmacy.
However, there are currently no TGA approved products on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) that meet the Schedule 3 criteria. And that process of approval could take years.
How do you actually get CBD oil?
“CBD got caught up in the whole medical cannabis legalisation thing that happened from late 2016,” explains Dr Iain McGregor, Professor of Psychopharmacology, University of Sydney. As part of that, there was a “torturous process” set up for Australians to access CBD, whereby you had to go through a doctor, hope said doctor is educated about CBD and is in favour of its use, then persuade them that CBD is right for you, then they would need to write a complicated application and send that off to Canberra to the TGA who would then decide either way.
The difference now is that Authorised Prescribers (AP) don’t need to apply to the TGA via the Special Access Scheme (SAS), they can write you a prescription on the spot. These APs can be either specialists or a GP, but there’s no full list right now, so your best bet is to start making some enquiries.
As of 2020, out of the approvals issued in total in over three years, Dr Iain estimated that about 20,000 patients gained access legally (when you take into account the prescription renewals throughout that time). “And there’s probably 10 times more people — certainly from our surveys — that are accessing illicit cannabis and self-medicating.”
The government and researchers are well aware that people in Australia are opting to bypass the current system and spend their money offshore, buying online from places like Canada and the US. But there are signs that prices will go down, since obviously there’s an increasingly competitive market for it.
The good news in all of this is that the strict regime tends to ensure high quality control of the product. “By being careful and quite well regulated the Australian scheme is probably going to give rise to very good products that will have a lot of export potential,” says Dr Iain. “The unfortunate thing is, Australian consumers are having to wait a very long time to get these products and at a reasonable price.”
Dr Iain says to “watch the hype.” He points to when cocaine was first invented, when they thought it would be a great cure for opium addiction and you could just chuck it in any old fizzy drink. “You always get this huge hype [around new drugs] and you do have to let research run its course. Big clinical trials take several years to complete; five years from now we’ll know a lot more about CBD and it’s potentials and limitations.”
“The hype is almost certainly wrong. The idea that it’s just a placebo is almost certainly wrong, as well. So the truth is somewhere in between. What we have to do as scientists is work out what that truth actually is.”
As a neuroscientist, Dr Katrina Green of the University of Wollongong is particularly interested in the developing brain and the short and long term effects of cannabidiol use on it. “A lot of people say that CBD is non-psychoactive but psychoactive is defined as something that interacts with the brain and changes behaviour. Now that applies to THC, alcohol, heroin, whatever. CBD is absolutely psychoactive, it’s just psychoactive in a good way.”
SOURCE: What’s the deal with getting and using CBD oil in Australia?
By Claire Bracken
ABC News, Wednesday 18 August 2021 9:51am