“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.”
'It definitely has an effect on mood': Cannabidiol used to ease pain and anxiety in pets
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?
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.”
Christian Read insists while medical medicinal cannabis can't cure him of the pain he experiences, it grants him some relief.
Getting a medicine to market in Australia, even a non-prescription one, requires extensive research and investment. It might be too much for small cannabis producers to take on, and a turn-off for big pharmaceutical companies if that investment is at the expense of upcoming blockbuster drugs. And the process might not be worth it if research shows the benefit of cannabinoids is small compared with other therapies.
However, due to cannabis' complicated extraction, synthesis, combinations, drug interactions and side-effects profile, it seems unlikely many non-medical companies would have the facilities, systems and people available in Australia to be able to achieve the required standards.
What could low-dose CBD be good for?
They also need to understand the legal, professional and regulatory obligations placed on prescribers and dispensers. If products are being bought at the chemist, they may interfere with other drugs or foods. Companies who want to sell such products in Australia will need to focus on bringing their drug development into line with regulatory standards. Time will tell how many can do that.
Advocates say medicinal cannabis offers effective relief when other treatments are failing. But Australian guidelines say there's limited evidence to support its use.
Setting high standards
If we are using cannabis as a medicine, we should make the same demands we do of other medicines to protect patient safety. This requires good manufacturing practice, good laboratory standards of measurement, appropriate labelling, and sufficient clinical information for informed patient consent.
Medical professionals should know what they are prescribing or recommending and be able to refer to dose-response data for each compound. They need to know the pharmacology and the drug interactions, the evidence for their use in specific conditions and any negative effects.