cbd in australia

What’s the deal with getting and using CBD oil in Australia?

What you and your mates potentially know as CBD oil is actually cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis/word you’ll probably have to try pronounce at least twice.

You’ve probably met its mate, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC aka the one that makes you wicked ≋h≋i≋g≋h≋) but CBD will not get you stoned. (Unless you’ve got it from somewhere slightly dodgy and you’re not 100% sure about the THC content).

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So to be clear, CBD is used for medical reasons and NOT Reefer Madness. What kind of medical reasons? According to Dr Iain McGregor, Professor of Psychopharmacology, “It’s more a case of what it doesn’t do rather than what it does.”

What’s CBD good for?

It was first discovered in the 50s and 60s (in modern times) and was basically thought to be useless, says the Doc. That was, until the 70s, when we rediscovered its antiepileptic effects. But it really wasn’t until the past four or five years that there’s been a real increase in awareness and research.

“It’s become this almost universal panacea,” says Dr Iain. Depending on who you ask, CBD oil is good for what ails you, whether that be anxiety, anorexia, insomnia, PTSD, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, depression, migraines, or feeling chronically unchill.

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Neuropharmacologist, University of Wollongong lecturer and Associate Investigator with ACRE, Dr Katrina Green, also notes that after 12,000 years of interaction between humans and cannabis, our understanding of this plant is still very much in its infancy.

“CBD is obviously pretty important. Its anti-inflammatory capacity and its ability to protect the brain is evident in almost every study that you pick up.”

She finds these anti-inflammatory effects, even in low doses of cannabidiol, especially exciting since inflammation kind of underlies everything. “Low levels of inflammation are involved in body weight gain, if you pull a muscle. there’s such wide ranging benefits to anti-inflammatories.”

“There’s evidence, particularly in illnesses of the brain, that it does work,” she says. So depression, anxiety, ADHD, tourettes, PTSD, different aspects of psychosis — for those type of things the evidence consistently shows that there’s benefits. CBD is not as great with pain, she says, because you kind of need THC to get any pain benefits.

But CBD research takes money, something which scientists are notoriously short on. And ideally they’d be able to grow their own products here to research but that would take less regulation, something which governments are notoriously fond of.

So, what’s legally available in Australia?

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.

“Surprisingly the government — particularly the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which regulates how drugs are marketed and available to consumers — seem to be listening,” says Dr Iain.

Earlier this year the Department of Health put in a proposal for CBD to change from Schedule 4 (prescription only) to Schedule 3, which would make it available over the counter at your local pharmacy. This could happen as early as February 2021.

How do you actually get CBD oil?

“CBD got caught up in the whole medical cannabis legalisation thing that happened from late 2016,” Dr Iain explains. As part of that, there was a “torturous process” set up for Australians to access CBD, whereby you have to go through a doctor, you need to hope said doctor is educated about CBD and is in favour of its use, then you need to persuade them that CBD is right for you, then they need to write a complicated application and send that off to Canberra to the TGA who would then decide either way.

Then, of course, if you do get approved there’s the issue of cost, which is prohibitive for a lot of people. Sitting at about $10-$15 a day, “you’d probably find it’s cheaper to grow your own (and a lot of people do).”

Out of the approvals issued in total in over three years, Dr Iain estimates 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.”

‘Green Light’: New doco reveals story of two Aussies breaking the law to supply medicinal cannabis

“We try and just look at this as a health issue and as a human rights issue.”

So yeah, the government and researchers are well aware that a lot of 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.

Already there’s countless overseas companies taking an interest in selling to Aussies. “They see it as perhaps the fastest growing market in the world, even though it’s a small population the numbers add up,” says Dr Iain.

“The main thing we need is a really vibrant domestic market. It grows particularly well in Australia — the stuff just jumps out of the ground!”

The good news in all of this, agree both experts, is that that 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.”

Medicinal cannabis is legal, so why are people still turning to the black market?

After Grace was diagnosed with cancer, she turned to medicinal cannabis. But getting it legally was a challenge, so she’s sticking with the black market — and experts say her experience is common.

On top of that, your average over the counter product that’ll be available here will have relatively low concentrations of CBD. So, if you’re getting an oil that has maybe 30 milligrams per mil, your average daily dose is probably less than 100 milligrams of CBD. However, clinical trials and research suggest that effective doses for things like anxiety and psychosis tend to be a lot higher, they tend to be up around 500-1000 milligrams, which causes Dr Iain beg the question: “Even if we get the over the counter products available in Australia, will they actually be any good?”

Should you believe the hype?

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 so complete; five years from now we’ll know a lot more about CBD and it’s potentials and limitations.”

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There’s also the placebo effect to consider, so after weeks of use the shine may wear off and the expenditure may seem less worth it.

“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 is particularly interested in the developing brain and the short term 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.”

“What is concerning. as CBD becomes more available companies will inevitably jump on board to try and make a dollar out of it. This is the hype that I’m concerned about,” she says.

Especially when it comes to younger brains and an increasingly casual use of cannabis products, Dr Katrina advises: “Just remember cannabidiol is a medicine.”

“We’re saying that it’s beneficial for all of these illnesses, it’s not just a wellness substance like a vitamin C.” She recommends only taking it if you actually need to for genuine dysfunction or illness, not as a supplement, and to exercise “a little bit of caution when ordering things from overseas or using as a daily tonic”

You’ve probably met its mate, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC aka the one that makes you wicked high) but what about CBD?

Where To Buy CBD Oil in Australia

The Australian federal government introduced legislation to decriminalise the use and sale of medical cannabis in 2016.

There are currently two types of methods that people in Australia are accessing CBD products:

Buying CBD Oil Online

– Buying from online stores without a valid prescription

Accessing Products Through The Government Approved Prescription Methods

– Through your GP
– Through Specialist Clinics
– Through the Extemporaneous Compounding Pathway

1. Buying CBD Oil Online

Due to the desperation or nature of their suffering and illnesses, Australians are choosing to buy CBD Oil online, instead of the legal government approved prescribed method outlined below. Many attempt the quick and easy method of purchasing CBD products online from local and international sellers, without obtaining a valid prescription. The problem with this is the lack of education of the right product to take, the correct dosage, scam products with false quality claims, prescriptions and overall control and monitoring of the clinical trials and efficacy of the alleged health benefits.

With many “backyard brands” and scam products flooding the market, we are hearing of many people getting scammed by sellers that have little to no CBD content in their products. Our mission is to educate the Australian community in making a more informed decision of their approach to medical cannabis treatment.

Important: Please read the following information before you consider to purchase CBD from online sellers.

  • A valid prescription in Australia is required to legally use medical cannabis and CBD products
  • There is potential for orders to be stopped at customs for being hemp products
  • By purchasing online, your feedback is not added to the health data that is collected by Australian doctors and clinics during the government approved pathways process

2. Access Treatment Through The Government Approved Prescribed Methods

In Australia, patients are required to undergo the Special Access [1] or Authorised Prescriber Schemes [2] administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to qualify for a special prescription to obtain medical cannabis, also commonly referred to as medical marijuana.
There are 2 ways within this method.

Through your GP
  • Determine if you are currently being treated for a medical condition that can also be treated by cannabis (scroll down to the bottom of this page to see a list of approved illnesses)
  • Determine if your current treatment has not produced results and you are still having health problems
  • Talk to your GP and request that they apply on your behalf to Therapeutic Goods Association to get approval for them to prescribe you medical cannabis.

The challenge with going through your GP is that many doctors are not yet informed of medical cannabis nor have been educated in the process to prescribe it or authorise it for their patients. This is slowly changing with the growth of more awareness and education.

Through a Specialist Clinic

If your GP doesn’t know the process of applying for medical cannabis for you, you can seek the help of a specialist clinic. The following Australian clinics can assist patients with the process of qualifying and obtaining a legal prescription to purchase government approved medical cannabis products.

Clinic GP Referral Needed Initial Consultation TGA Application Prescription Consult Checkups
Cannabis Access Clinics No $200
+$25 Screening Fee
$250 $80 $80
Cannabis Doctors Australia Yes $199 $0 N/A $59
Cannadoc No $250 Varies $47 $47
Cannvalate No $95 N/A $25 $75
Emerald Clinics Yes $380 N/A $90 $180
MediCannabis Yes $250 N/A $100 $100
Releaf No $195 N/A $254 $98.95
Tetra Health Yes $50 N/A $250 $150

Through Extemporaneous Compounding Pharmacies

Extemporaneous compounding is the preparation of a therapeutic product for an individual patient in response to an identified need. Active pharmaceutical ingredients can be incorporated into a wide array of products including creams, eye drops, nasal sprays, oral dosage forms or intravenous infusions.

The Therapeutic Goods Regulation Act 1990 initially had a restriction that prohibited compounding pharmacies from specifically producing cannabis medicines. In late 2017, this restriction was removed Green Dispensary Compounding were the first Australian compounding pharmacy to gain confirmation and approval with the TGA to commence compounding and dispensing medical cannabis on prescription.

With the above two pathways (Special Access Scheme and Authorised Prescriber Schedule) being the most common, Extemporaneous compounding [Schedule 5 Subregulation 12(1) item 6] has also become available to patients as an alternate legal option. This scheme is available where a pharmacist exempt from holding a manufacturing license, can prepare and dispense any scheduled medicine from an order/prescription from a medical practitioner for a particular person for therapeutic application to that person.

What illnesses are approved for medical cannabis treatment?

The following is a list of illnesses that may get approved for the Special Access Scheme and clinical trials for CBD Oil use. These illnesses have been approved by the TGA in the past.

  • Anorexia and wasting associated with chronic illness
  • Anxiety [3]
  • Autism symptoms
  • Cancer pain
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic infection
  • Chronic pain [4]
  • Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Depression
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy / Seizure management
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraines
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Neuropathies
  • Opioid dependence
  • Palliative care
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Post CVA Neuropathy
  • PTSD [5]
  • Radiculopathies
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Spasticity from neurological conditions
  • Tremors

Learn more about the potential health benefits of medical cannabis for your body and how it effects your Endocannabinoid System

CBD Products

Explore different ways your body take Cannabidiol

CBD Oil Tinctures
CBD Vape Oil
CBD Capsules
CBD Gummies
CBD Topicals

Australian Medical Cannabis Market Trends Q1 2020

The following insights of medicinal cannabis and CBD oil Australia are from the Fresh Leaf Analytics Q1 2020 report.

FreshLeaf Analytics forecasts that by December 2020, the market will triple year-on-year to 25,000 – 30,000 active patients in the Australia market. This patient model factors in Authorised Prescriber and compounding rates.

Active Patient Forecast – 2020

Product Growth

The last 6 months has seen the a rapid growth of the number of available products in Australia. There are now 100 medicinal cannabis products that doctors can choose from, an increase of 33% since September 2019.

Number of Medicinal Cannabis Product Variety Expands in the Australian Market

Oil products continue to dominate category share, with 57 entrants, and oils are the most prescribed product type. Sprays and capsules are the fastest growing product categories with both more than doubling in the number of different brands available over the past 6 months

With 8 different product options available to Australian patients, creams and lozenges are 2 new entrants in 2020.

New to Medical Cannabis and CBD?

Explore Our Beginner’s Guide to CBD Today

What is CBD?

CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is one of the main components found in the cannabis plant. As a phytocannabinoid, Cannabidiol is known for its highly beneficial medical properties without imparting any psychoactive effects.

Cannabidiol, is an active ingredient found in cannabis sativa or hemp plant. Among over 100 natural cannabinoids, CBD is presently known as a potent supplement with promising effects if taken alone or as a complementary drug along with conventional medication.

How Does CBD Work?

When many people hear CBD Oil and Cannabis Oil, their focus shifts towards marijuana and then associate it with the negative stigmas that follow the subject of recreational drug use. CBD, although developed from cannabis sativa hemp plant, is not psychoactive which means that their chances of becoming “high” is non-existent, unless the product contains THC.

There are hundreds of cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most famous cannabinoids, next to tetrahydrocannabinol thc. CBD is not psychoactive and does not produce the same kind of euphoric side effects that THC does, meaning that it makes it ideal for people to use it consistently for health issues without the worry of becoming addicted to a “high”.

The human body has an Endocannabinoid system that assists in regulating inflammation, mood, sleep and our immune system. CBD Oil allows our bodies to optimise our own natural cannabinoids produced by our body. We have two main receptors: CB1 (brain and nervous system), and CB2 (immune system). Tetrahydrocannabinol THC causes the body to become high by attaching itself to the brain’s receptors. CBD doesn’t attach itself directly. Instead, it influences the body’s supply to utilise itself more effectively, assisting in chronic pain management, and anti inflammatory benefits in the nervous system.

Did you know that animals also have an endocannabinoid system? Check out our page on cbd oil for dogs

What is CBD Used For?

The following is a list of illnesses that may get approved for the Special Access Scheme and clinical trials. These illnesses have been approved for cannabis oil use by the Therapeutic Goods Association in the past.

  • Anorexia and wasting associated with chronic illness ( such as cancer)
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Autism symptoms
  • Cancer pain
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic infection
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy / Seizure management
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Migraines
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Neuropathies
  • Opioid dependence
  • Palliative care
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Post CVA Neuropathy
  • PTSD
  • Radiculopathies
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Spasticity from neurological conditions
  • Tremors
Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum or Isolate CBD Oil – which do I choose to buy?

Before buying, it is crucial to know the 3 classifications of Cannabinoid Products:

Full Spectrum CBD Oil
  • Contains CBD and all natural compounds of the plant
  • Contains trace amounts of THC
  • Not recommended for users who want to avoid THC (can test positive in drug tests)
  • Ideal for those with a specific prescription with a THC to CBD ratio
Broad Spectrum CBD Oil
  • Contains CBD and all natural compounds of the plant
  • Does not contain THC
  • Ideal for first-time users
CBD Isolate
  • Contains all only one compound: Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Does not contain THC
  • Ideal for those who require specific high doses of CBD only
What Products are There?

CBD Oil droppers/ tinctures are a form that can be taken orally. It has gained popularity from users due to its versatility. This type of CBD hemp oil usually comes with a dropper or spray bottle, making it simple for user to put the product on their tongue and let is be absorbed into their mouth and system. Tinctures can come in various flavours and are ideal for first timers.
Prices for CBD tinctures range from $40AUD to $300AUD.

Concentrates and Pastes

Concentrates, pastes and extract are for the people that want the strongest CBD value they can get. These products are comprised of pure CBD oil, meaning that the CBD concentration will always be high. This type acts fast, absorbing into the system in about 15 minutes, and then lasts in the body up to 12 hours. This might not be the best choice for a novice as it takes a high tolerance to handle this and there is also a strong hemp taste.
Price to buy CBD oil and concentrates range from $280 to $420.

For the people that would prefer to vape, there are now vape oils infused with CBD. This product is also ideal because it allows users to safely inhale the product and absorb the CBD through the lungs. The effects can be felt almost immediately and can last up to six hours. This method requires some more investment than the others because vape oil can be difficult to use and a person will also have to buy an e-pen or vaporiser. Before spending the extra money, it’s important to determine if you truly prefer this method over the others. This method is more common in the United States than in Australia.
Prices for vape oils range from $20 to $180.

There are now lotions, oils, and balms that are infused with CBD oil. They are rubbed onto the skin and absorbed to provide joint pain relief, inflammation, and muscle soreness. This is the easiest form of using CBD but it is also the slowest. Once applied, it takes one to two hours to be fully absorbed into the system and depending on strength, it can last six to 12 hours.
Prices range for topical creams range from $15 to $120.

CBD capsules and pills are absorbed into the stomach and can last between six to 12 hours. Since the capsules are digested in the gut, it can take a little longer (one to two hours) for the effects to happen. These pills usually come with a high concentration, meaning that while people are also getting their money’s worth here, it can be difficult for others to pinpoint how much CBD oil works for them.This type would better serve people that already know what their daily intake of CBD is so they can take their dose quickly without having to worry about anything else.
Prices range for capsules range from $40 to $200.

CBD edibles, like gummy bears and other candy varieties, come in a huge range of flavours and provide the users with something that is fun tasty . With edibles, it takes about one to two hours for the effects to kick in and they can last six to 12 hours, depending on the strength. Similar to vaping, edibles are more common in the United States and also slowly gaining popularity in Australia.
Prices for edibles start at $20.

Important Information For Beginners
Know the difference

Don’t get hemp seed oil confused with CBD Oil (also known as Cannabis Oil). Chemist warehouse, supermarkets and health food stores all stock hemp seed oil on their shelves, which is an omega-3 and omega-6 rich oil you can eat on your salads and soups. Hemp seed oil is well known for hair and skin health repair. It is quite common that many people mistake hemp seed oil for CBD oil.

Analyse the concentration amounts

Concentration amounts can be daunting for beginners, especially when there are so many choices available on the market. A beginner will have to determine through different usages and products what works for them and what makes them feel the best. This idea should also be taken into account with how long it takes your body to react to the effects and how long they last for. It takes the body a while to adjust to the effects and different concentrations of CBD so a person shouldn’t start out too strong and should expect a few weeks spent on experimentation and allowing their bodies to become used to CBD overall. As long as they are patient and just enjoy the CBD journey, they will find that concentrations and effects times are very simple to figure out.

CBD vs Marijuana

There is a big question of why someone should choose CBD over marijuana. For some people, they swear that marijuana provides better effects than any other cannabis product but what they are forgetting is that not everyone wants a psychoactive high. CBD is the better alternative for the people that want to get the full effects of cannabis without the psychoactive consequences after. Since Australia still carries strict laws against marijuana, beginners are expected to choose CBD oil first. THC also has a range of side effects that many want to avoid. Serious and detrimental side effects of CBD are yet to be found.

Once Australians start educating themselves on what CBD is really is and its health benefits, the stigma should start fading away. CBD will provide a big market that will become a sizeable portion of the country’s economic success whilst just being a great alternative to marijuana and other organic hemp products that many people just aren’t that comfortable with yet.

Legalisation in Australia
New South Wales

As part of a clinical trial or under the Special Access or Authorised Prescriber Schemes administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration Doctors in NSW can prescribe medicinal cannabis. There are no limits to the symptoms and conditions for which a medicinal cannabis product may be prescribed. Learn more at the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation.


Under the Victorian Access to Medicinal Cannabis Scheme and the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016, the first group of patients eligible to apply for medicinal cannabis is children with intractable epilepsy, under the care of a specialist paediatric neurologist. Check health.vic for details of when more patient groups will be added.

Australian Capital Territory

Doctors in the ACT can apply to the ACT Chief Health Officer for approval to prescribe cannabis products as “schedule 8” controlled medicines. Those medications can be used to treat spasticity in multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, pain and anxiety in patients with a life-limiting disease and a life expectancy of less than 12 months, and refractory paediatric epilepsy. Visit the ACT Health website for more info.


Under the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016, Queensland doctors can prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients who suffer a range of conditions for which conventional treatments have either failed or caused intolerable side effects. Conditions include multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and chemotherapy. Contact Queensland Health for more details.

South Australia

Since November 2016, South Australian medical practitioners have been able to prescribe “schedule 8” medicinal cannabis products for therapeutic use. The conditions it can be used to treat include multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and intractable epilepsy in children. More information is available from SA Health.

Western Australia

Since November 2016, specialist doctors in Western Australia have been able to prescribe medicinal cannabis for certain conditions, such as terminally ill patients and for those suffering from a chronic condition. Visit the WA Government’s Department of Health for more information.

Northern Territory

Patients in the Northern Territory and Darwin can access medicinal cannabis through doctors who are authorised under the Special Access or Authorised Prescriber Schemes administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Visit the Department of Health website for full details.


Under the Tasmanian Government’s medical cannabis controlled access scheme (CAS) launched in September 2017, specialists can prescribe medical cannabis where conventional treatment has been unsuccessful. Contact the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services for full details

Our Thoughts

By legalising CBD Oil Australia has opened its doors for other medical treatments to be created through the cannabis industry. As 2020 begins as the start of a new decade, CBD popularity grows as a pioneer product, leading the way to potential success in the future within the medical field and recreational uses. Access to CBD oil and medicinal cannabis for Australians has known to be a challenge but if it becomes a household name within Australian society, concrete evidence as to all of its benefits, how people have been healed psychologically and physically, and other suggestions to how it, can be used towards health.

Australia is starting to scratch the surface of ventures with the medical cannabis industry and CBD in particular is growing more popular everyday. The negative discourse connected to CBD is that because it is a cannabis product, there is a stigma behind it that persuades people to believe that it is used as a recreational drug. As innovators, Australia has a duty to not only learn about hemp oil products and the industry, but also to inform the general public that the negative stigma of cannabis can be changed and that CBD can be a good investment for the country; it will serve as a leader that can be further advanced for potential therapeutic and medical breakthroughs.

[1] Special Access Scheme – by Australian Government Department of Health | Therapeutic Goods Administration, 18 September 2019
[2] Authorised Prescriber Scheme – by Australian Government Department of Health | Therapeutic Goods Administration, 3 July 2017
[3] Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules | Front Pharmacol, 13 November 2018
[4] Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series | Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 9 April 2019

To educate and inform the Australian community in Medical Cannabis and Cannabidiol (CBD) products, so they are knowledgeable with the correct information to make a well informed approach to medical cannabis for themselves or whom they care for.

In Australia, there are 2 ways to access cbd oil, thc oil and medical cannabis products. A presciption is required although many purchase online without a script. ]]>