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.
But so far, no product containing CBD has been approved by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), which is a requirement of pharmacist sale. ARTG approval means regulatory quality data on its safety, contaminants, microbial content, shelf-life and efficacy meet the TGA standards and is known and tested in regulatory grade laboratories.
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.
What could low-dose CBD be good for?
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.
In Australia, it became legal to purchase products containing low-dose (less than 150 milligrams a day) CBD over the counter after the TGA down-scheduled the substance from a Schedule 4 (prescription medicine) to a Schedule 3 (pharmacist-only medicine).
Since early 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has allowed the sale of low-dose cannabidiol (CBD) preparations over the counter at Australian pharmacies. But you won't find any at your local chemist.
Setting high standards
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.
So far, big pharmaceutical companies have not shown significant interest in low-dose CBD. They may not be sure low-dose drugs will be recommended by doctors, or be waiting for more research. They may not judge CBD to be a potential blockbuster compared with other therapies in their pipelines.
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They also secrete chemicals called cytokines. Immune cells use these to communicate with each other, but they also cause inflammation.
But regardless of your reasons for taking CBD, the TGA's decision doesn't mean you can pop out to your local pharmacy and pick up some up right this minute.
In short, anyone taking any medication should be careful.
What about the stuff online?
"'Promiscuous' is the pharmacological term," Professor Martin said.
One group of cannabis compounds are cannabinoids. More than 100 different cannabinoids have been found in cannabis so far, including tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that gets you high
And it's jumping through the efficacy hoop that will be the tricky part.
What's the evidence for medical marijuana?
And — being a promiscuous molecule — CBD doesn't just work its magic on cannabinoid receptors. It can activate others, such as serotonin receptors.
CBD's purported effects there — such as calming us down and helping us nod off at night — are all controlled by evolutionarily ancient brain systems that regulate vital functions such as appetite, emotion, fear and sleep.
The cannabis plant contains 80 to 100 cannabinoids. The one that gets people high is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Other cannabinoids have been shown to relieve symptoms of disease. International research is looking at the therapeutic properties of some of the other cannabinoids.
healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.
What is medicinal cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis comes as a pill, oil, nasal spray or some other form of cannabis plant extract. It is used to relieve the symptoms of some medical conditions. Medicinal cannabis is being researched worldwide due to its potential to help a number of conditions, but its use is very highly regulated in Australia.
Who might benefit from medicinal cannabis?
Do not try to import cannabis products or smoke ‘street’ marijuana to try to treat your symptoms. As well as this being illegal, you have no control over the dose or what is in the product. Also, there hasn’t been research into any side effects, and any form of smoking can give you cancer.