Despite the many, many, many claims to the contrary, CBD is not available over the counter in pharmacies right now, nor will it be for some time.
You may have seen this story on your travels around the web which suggests that CBD, the much-hyped extract from the cannabis plant, can now be bought in pharmacies across the country.
The truth is, while the government’s regulatory body has made the sale of low-dose CBD legal over the counter as of February 1st, no products will be available for at least a year.
In order to be sold in pharmacies, CBD, as a schedule three medicine, will have to be registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration and gain their approval, a process that can take up to a year or two, depending on how whether or not manufacturers are able to make their products conform to the TGA’s strict regulations.
However, these technicalities have not stopped almost every publication in Australia from shouting the news from the rooftops that CBD can now be bought in Australia. This is largely due to the fact that these places have been swamped with press releases from medicinal cannabis companies looking to cash in on the hype.
The TGA themselves are also partially to blame for this surge in misinformation as they have not provided clear information to journalists or doctors explaining the changes.
Cannabiz, the industry publication that covers medicinal cannabis developments, reported that the resultant confusion from all of this misinformation has left pharmacies swamped with disappointed customers.
People across Australia have been descending on their local medicines distributor, eager to get hold of the miracle extract that is thought to treat anything and everything from pain to STIs. They have instead been confronted with overwhelmed pharmacists trying to explain the nuances of Australia’s medical regulatory body to them.
Lisa Nguyen, founder of Astrid Dispensary, a green dispensary specialising in cannabinoid medicines in South Yarra, Victoria said “every second customer” has asked about over-the-counter CBD.
“My patients are very confused. They’ve seen on the news that CBD is available over the counter and we have to explain the nuances of the TGA to them,” Nguyen said. “They say ‘what’s the TGA?’. It’s not what they want to hear.”
“We are trying to legitimise the industry and things like this don’t help. It makes it go backwards by raising patient expectations high and not delivering.”
When products are finally made available, it may not be to the liking of patients as only low-dose CBD will be available over the counter. That is, less that 150mg per day can be purchased. Unfortunately, there is very little evidence that dosage this low will have a significant impact on the conditions patients are hoping to treat.