The Australian government is reconsidering CBD’s drug scheduling status, which could make low-dose products available over the counter as early as the end of 2020. If successful, this would be a groundbreaking moment for the country’s CBD industry.
Although CBD is legal in Australia, accessing it is a complicated process. CBD was changed into a Schedule 4 drug in 2015, which means it requires a special prescription. You have to talk to your doctor, and they need to apply and get approval from the Department of Health before they can write a prescription.
According to estimates, only 457 patients gained access to medical cannabis products through this scheme in 2017, with the number rising to 15,556 in 2019. Consequently, most Australians turn to a legal gray area by purchasing CBD products online.
The promising news came out from Australia’s Department of Health, which said it’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is performing a review of CBD’s safety at low doses in a submission to a Senate inquiry into medical cannabis patient access.
The submission notes that “the TGA is currently undertaking a safety review of CBD at lower doses, although there are only limited published studies. Based on the outcome of these studies, it is possible that relaxation of the scheduling status of low dose CBD (e.g. to over the counter) could be considered during 2020.”
This review is set to complete in March, which means that if it finds CBD to be safe, Australians could have easier access to CBD by the end of 2020 or in 2021. A positive outcome is quite likely, given the optimistic findings of published studies on CBD and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2018 report stating that CBD is “well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
It’s important to note that by the TGA’s definition, a low-dose CBD product is anything that provides 15-100 mg of CBD daily. Since the vast majority of CBD users fall within this range, this change would be highly beneficial to Australians who want access to the non-intoxicating cannabinoid.
In the words of Australian cannabis data firm FreshLeaf Analytics, “…should this down-scheduling change occur, it would be a watershed moment in Australia’s medical cannabis framework.”
You can read the full submission of the Australian Department of Health here.