Australia Considers Legalizing Some OTC CBD Products

February 4, 2020 09:00:14

The CBD craze has swept over many markets. From Europe to the U.S., more and more people have been turning to cannabidiol to help manage their ailments. The chemical is extracted from the hemp plant and is said to be effective against a range of ailments from anxiety and high blood pressure to insomnia and chronic pain.

However, in most of these markets, cannabidiol is barely regulated. A lot of the medical claims are anecdotal, with the only properly researched and tried instance being of Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat seizures in rare pediatric epilepsies in June 2018.

CBD users in Australia may be getting their break this year after FreshLeaf Analytics, which operates as a division of Southern Cannabis Holding, suggested that the Australian Government might be preparing to introduce over-the-counter CBD at some point in 2020.

This came after the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) responded to an inquiry by the Australian Senate into the barriers preventing patients from accessing medical cannabis.

“If the only thing making the TGA hesitate about allowing low-dose (15-100mg/day by their definition) CBD products to be made OTC is safety, it doesn’t seem like they’ll have much of a problem,” says FreshLeaf Analytics Principal Consultant Rhys Cohen.

“The effects of low dose CBD may be negligible for many patients, but it’s a pretty benign drug and is already widely available online and in retail outlets across North America and Europe.”

The TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) is a division of Australia’s Department of Health and it is the main regulatory body in charge of therapeutic goods in the country. During a public submission to a Senate Committee studying Australia’s medical cannabis access, the Department of Health stated that the TGA is currently undertaking a review of CBD in lower doses.

“Based on the outcome of these studies, it is possible that relaxation of the scheduling status of low dose CBD, such as over the counter variants, could be considered during 2020,” says an excerpt from the submission.

At the moment, Australia treats products with only CBD as Schedule 4 medicines, and they’re only available with a doctor’s prescription.

Rhys Cohen says that he suspects there is significant demand for low dose CBD in Australia. “We’ve gone through the same CBD craze as North America but without any legal avenues to access the products other than through prescription.”

This will change if the Australian Government chooses to legalize over the counter low dose CBD products, as it will open up the market and allow patients who would be better off with medical cannabis but lack a prescription to access good quality CBD products.

Experts say industry players like Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQX: PLPRF) wish that the U.S. federal government would also look at CBD through progressive lenses and create avenues through which CBD products can be legally placed in food and drinks.

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