Australia is now officially allowing for medical cannabis to be purchased from a pharmacy without even getting a prescription. However, it won’t happen right away, as there are currently no approved products available, and some would have liked to see more from this law.
According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, who pushed this through, not only will there be a wait before cannabis is available, the only product that will legally be sold is CBD oil with trace amounts—specifically 1 percent—of CBD.
As of February 1 of 2021, CBD oil will be available for sale—that is if there is any product for sale by that time. Up to 150 mg a day could be offered over the counter to help with things like sleeping, pain, and anxiety.
Shifting The Views On Cannabis
This change was made when cannabis was changed from a schedule four drug, which needs a prescription, to a schedule three, which is available over the counter.
“It’s the biggest milestone since legalisation in 2016 and it’s going to dramatically change access for patients in Australia,” said Cassandra Hunt, managing director of Fresh Leaf Analytics. “Previously, they’ve had to go to a GP and they’ve had to talk to the GP about what they’re trying to treat, and then the GP has had to get special permission in order for them to be able to access a prescription.”
However, she added that because of all the registration and red tape involved, it could be a while before over-the-counter cannabis is readily available.
“In order for companies to get these products registered or available over-the-counter in pharmacies, they have to be registered as an S3 medicine,” she said. “What that requires is quite significant data about the safety and efficacy and quality of the products.”
This is in line with Australia’s propensity for heavy regulation, and also because the industry is so new. Regulators want time to learn more about CBD and ensure the quality of their products.
“That data, given the industry is so young, isn’t easy to come by,” Hunt added.
She also mentioned that part of the idea behind this move could be to push cannabis further away from the illicit market.
“If you couple that with making it more easily accessible through pharmacies, that should hopefully make a big difference for people who’ve been getting relief through those channels, but maybe can’t rely on those products being good quality.”
“Sometimes those products say they have something in them and that’s not in there, so you can’t really rely on the fact that you’re getting a good product.If you couple that with making it more easily accessible through pharmacies, that should hopefully make a big difference for people who’ve been getting relief through those channels, but maybe can’t rely on those products being good quality.”
The country is now waiting to see what comes of this new ruling, and how long it takes providers in the legal industry to get up and running and able to enter the market.