The sale of low-dose cannabidiol preparations over the counter at Australian pharmacies has been allowed since early this year. But you won't find any at your local chemist and there is a reason for that CBD is legal in both Australia and New Zealand, but illegal in other parts of the region. Here’s a list of CBD brands that ship down under. CBD gummies are delicious and packed full of CBD. Find out more on the health and medicinal benefits of CBD gummies and how to access them in Australia.
analysis : It’s legal to buy over-the-counter cannabis in Australia — so why doesn’t my chemist sell it?
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.
The situation is different overseas. In the United States, although not approved at a federal level, it is possible to buy over-the-counter products such as sweets containing CBD in several states. In the United Kingdom, low-dose CBD oil can be sold as a dietary supplement, but not a medicine.
CBD is a chemical found in the cannabis plant. Like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), also found in cannabis, it does have psychoactive effects. It can make people sleepy and affect the brain’s electrical signals. Unlike THC, it won’t get you “high” or induce other psychotic effects.
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.
Getting a medicine to market in Australia, even a non-prescription one, requires extensive research and investment. ( Unsplash: Jan Zwarthoed )
Setting high standards
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).
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.
What’s the evidence for medical marijuana?
Advocates say medicinal cannabis offers effective relief when other treatments are failing. But Australian guidelines say there’s limited evidence to support its use.
The time and financial costs for drug development to meet the ARTG standards can be significant. Aspiring cannabis companies may not anticipate the difference between selling a product like cannabidiol compared to other products such as toys or clothing.
Expert clinical groups including physicians, psychiatrists, the Australian Medical Association and Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists opposed the down-scheduling, citing the lack safety data, lack of efficacy data, issues with product labelling and the potential for interactions with prescription medicines.
In fact there is only one regulatory-grade CBD product approved for use in Australia, Epidyolex, which is approved for treating forms of severe childhood epilepsy, and only available on prescription. (A drug called Sativex is also approved that contains both CBD and THC.)
From a patient-safety perspective, regulating formulation and ensuring safety and quality data has met the TGA bar is imperative. Proving effectiveness is reasonable too. By down-scheduling and yet insisting on ARTG approval, the use of illicit CBD products may decrease – a win for population health if it transpires.
For industry, the TGA’s decision to down-schedule but require ARTG approval could be seen as helpful to ensure quality and restrict supply. It has been estimated there is a potential for hundreds of millions of dollars of market in Australia and crop development is already underway. So, major investment into drug development by a CBD company could be financially rewarding, as long as the standards are met.
What could low-dose CBD be good for?
There are currently no recommended medical uses for low-dose CBD. Clinical trial data suggests a benefit of higher dose CBD for some children with a severe form of epilepsy who haven’t responded to other drugs. But it’s not clear whether the benefits could also have been explained by the fact patients also took Valium. And there were significant side effects reported that were higher in the CBD group.
Here’s a first look at how many Australians are taking medicinal cannabis
Christian Read insists while medical medicinal cannabis can’t cure him of the pain he experiences, it grants him some relief.
With some high-profile proponents including basketballer Lauren Jackson, there are increasing calls in many countries for patients, particularly those with chronic pain, to legally use cannabinoids. There are also claims low-dose CBD could help people with anxiety, insomnia, arthritis or inflammatory issues, but this has yet to be backed by research into effectiveness or safety.
We don’t know whether any cannabis business has applied to the TGA to have its product registered and been rejected due to failures on the safety, efficacy and quality side.
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.
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.
There are some local producers exporting cannabis and embarking on clinical trials. Federal health minister Greg Hunt has said Australia is “poised to become a recognised leader in the global supply of the highest-quality medicinal cannabis products”.
Coming to a chemist soon?
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.
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.
Jennifer Martin is Professor of Medicine and Chair of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Newcastle and Catherine Lucas is a clinical pharmacologist, also at the University of Newcastle. This piece first appeared on The Conversation.
Posted 13 Dec 2021 13 Dec 2021 Mon 13 Dec 2021 at 7:30pm , updated 14 Dec 2021 14 Dec 2021 Tue 14 Dec 2021 at 5:23am
Guide to Buying CBD in Australasia For 2021
CBD is legal in both Australia and New Zealand, but illegal in other parts of the region.
Finding CBD products can be challenging for Australians & New Zealanders — here are three top brands that ship nearby.
Australia is expected to become one of the leading cannabis growers, and New Zealand is on the verge of full cannabis legalization.
Unfortunately, CBD is still controlled as a prescription-only substance.
Don’t worry — new laws are expected to be enacted soon.
This article will introduce you to the current laws on CBD and the upcoming changes in Australia and New Zealand. We’ll also share a list of companies that ship to New Zealand and Australia and tips on how to use a mail forwarding service and get your CBD delivered at your doorstep.
Table of Contents
- The Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana in Australasia
- 1. Marijuana
- 2. Hemp
CBD Laws in Australasian Countries
CBD Laws & Buyer’s Guides | Select Your Country
Medical Use Only
Medical Use Only
Papua New Guinea
Summary: Buying CBD in Australasia
- CBD products are hard to find in Australasia — you’ll need a medical license
- Most people in Australia and New Zealand order CBD oils from Premium Jane Australia and have it shipped to their home (free shipping offered on most orders)
- CBD is legal only for medical use
- Australian health authorities permit CBD if the content of other cannabinoids (including THC) doesn’t exceed 2%
- In New Zealand, CBD is legal if the content of THC and other psychoactive substances doesn’t exceed 2%
- In Australia, CBD falls under the medical cannabis program
- Importing CBD is prohibited in Australia
- New Zealand allows the import of CBD with a medical prescription
- Cannabis in Papua New Guinea is illegal
- CBD laws in Australasia are shifting towards friendlier regulations
CBD Companies That Ship to Australia & New Zealand
A Brief History of Cannabis Laws in Australasia
Although Australia and New Zealand were both British colonies, they have a different cannabis history.
Unlike Australia and New Zealand, Papua New Guinea doesn’t have a remarkable history of cannabis use. Cannabis was introduced to Papua New Guinea in the late 60s by Australian and American expatriates.
Cannabis was first introduced to Australia in 1788 when the British First Fleet brought hemp seeds to initiate hemp cultivation. The British naval power needed hemp primarily for cordage and sails.
For more than 150 years, the Australian government encouraged farmers to cultivate hemp with subsidies and land. British colonizers also introduced the medicinal use of cannabis in Australia in the 19th century. Australians used cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
In the 1920s, marijuana use increased throughout the West. Soon, the 1930s became the years of anti-marijuana propaganda led by the US government.
The aggressive reefer-madness campaign progressed with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which restricted cannabis sales with high taxes.
As a cannabis plant, hemp also fell under the act. Influenced by American politics and regulations, the Australian government banned cannabis (some states banned the import of cannabis even before the US did).
In New Zealand, hemp wasn’t a popular crop, as another plant was widely used for its fiber quality — harakeke. Known as the New Zealand flax, harakeke replaced hemp. However, hemp in New Zealand was used as a remedy and an insect repellent plant.
In 1941, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research planted hemp as a trial crop for fiber. A few years later, New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture planted four hectares of hemp. In 1948, cannabis’ psychoactive properties were discovered, and the government stopped all trials.
In Australia, cannabis cultivation became legal for medical and scientific purposes in 2016. New Zealand legalized government-licensed hemp cultivation in 2006 after the hemp lobby advocated for its legalization for more than a decade. As of December 2018, terminally ill patients can have access to medicinal cannabis.
The Differences Between Hemp and Marijuana in Australasia
Marijuana is any cannabis plant that contains more than 0.35% THC — the main cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects related to the recreational use of the plant.
Unlike marijuana, hemp plants don’t contain high amounts of THC. In New Zealand, hemp includes varieties of Cannabis sativa that have a THC content below 0.35%.
Some Australian states have a higher threshold for THC content, varying from 0.35% to 1%.
Is CBD Legal in Australasia?
CBD in Australasia is restricted. While the cannabinoid is available only via prescription in both countries, the regulations around its use and import are slightly different.
Verdict: Legal for Medical Use
In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates CBD as a controlled substance under poison and drug laws. The cannabinoid falls under the medical cannabis program.
CBD can be obtained via an authorized prescriber or the Special Access Scheme (SAS). In some cases, patients can acquire CBD through clinical trials.
In Australia, CBD is legal as long as the content of other cannabinoids (including THC) in the CBD product doesn’t exceed 2%.
2. New Zealand
Verdict: Legal for Medical Use
In New Zealand, CBD is classified as a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act 1981. Access to CBD is possible only by prescription from an authorized prescriber. Patients are allowed to import CBD, but the product must fall within legal THC limits.
Under New Zealand’s law, the content of tetrahydrocannabinol and other psychoactive substances mustn’t exceed 2%. The Ministry of Health notes that medicinal cannabis products like Sativex are not considered CBD products.
3. Papua New Guinea
Cannabis — called spak brus among the indigenous people — in Papua New Guinea is illegal and any possession related to it is punishable.
How to Buy CBD Products in Australasia
CBD is available in Australia & New Zealand through a special access scheme (medical cannabis program), but illegal in Papua New Guinea.
The market here is very new, and licensed pharmacies have limited product choices.
In fact, it’s very difficult to find CBD products here. There are very few companies operating locally due to steep restrictions by local government. The vast majority of CBD brands are located in the United States and Europe — and only a small fraction will ship overseas to Australia in fear of having their orders confiscated at the border.
We’ve found the best options for people living in Australia and New Zealand is Endoca, followed by Hemp Bombs or BlueBird Botanicals. All three companies will ship to Australia (some free of charge). We haven’t been able to find any reports of CBD products being stopped at the border and Endoca claims to have had no problems shipping to the region (hence the free shipping offer).
Health authorities and other regulatory bodies are under constant pressure to ease access to CBD. New Zealand’s government announced a nationwide referendum for cannabis legalization in 2020.
In September 2019, the Australian Capital Territory legalized the recreational use of cannabis. The progressive changes point out that laws around CBD will become even friendlier on CBD companies hoping to operate in the region.
If you live in New Zealand, you can import CBD (up to 3 months supply), with or without a prescription from an authorized prescriber. In Australia, importing CBD is prohibited, unless the product has valid import permission.
Unlike Australia, New Zealand doesn’t require an import license for CBD products. Importing CBD that doesn’t fall under New Zealand’s CBD product definition is illegal.
Keep yourself informed on the current changes in local regulations. Once governments enact friendlier CBD laws, you’ll be able to buy CBD products online from countries with highly developed CBD markets.
Pros & Cons of Buying CBD Online in Australasia
- You can choose from thousands of different CBD products
- Online stores are cheaper
- You’ll get your CBD delivered to your door
- You can compare products and read customer reviews
- Your CBD product can be seized
- You might need to pay for a mail forwarding service
If you want to buy CBD from an online store, you might need to use a mail forwarding service. Some companies don’t ship CBD to your country, and your mail will have to be forwarded to arrive at your address.
How Mail Forwarding Works
You can use a mail forwarding service when you want to purchase CBD from a store that won’t ship to your country.
For example, if you want to buy CBD from the US or Europe, but the company doesn’t ship to where you live, you can register at Shipito.
The mail forwarding company provides you with a local address you will use to place your CBD order.
When the product arrives to the mail forwarding service, staff will change the stamps and forward the package to your home address.
Mail forwarding companies offer concierge services, which means that you can provide them with product details, and they’ll shop for you.
Fees and costs vary from one mail forwarding company to another. As we’ve already mentioned Shipito, here are its mail forwarding rates:
Tier of Service Sign Up Fee Annual Fee Average Shipping Fee Free Membership (If you only need the service every once in a while) $3 USD $0 $30 USD Premium Membership (If you order CBD often and want protection on your packages) $2 USD $60 $30 USD
Their concierge service costs are as follows:
$8.50 fee + 4.3% processing + 8% commission.
NOTE: Although the Australian Capital Territory legalized recreational cannabis, laws around CBD haven’t changed yet.
A mail forwarding service can help you get your CBD to your door, but the product can still end up seized at customs, and you’d put yourself in trouble.
If you live in New Zealand and want to buy medical CBD, read the product’s content before you order it to make sure it’s legal for import.
The Future of CBD in Australasia
Australasia has traditionally been very unaccepting of CBD, but things are changing.
The Australasian authorities are aware that they need to reshape their regulations in order to follow the international scientific and economic cannabis development.
Australia is easing its laws — the legalization of recreational cannabis in the Australian Capital Territory is the basis for new CBD laws. New Zealand will likely change its restrictive laws after the cannabis legalization referendum in 2020.
According to Emerald Plants Health Source, Australia will become the “envy of the global market and the gateway to Asia,” thanks to its highly developed agricultural and crop safety management systems.
Many parts of Australia have a suitable climate and plenty of available land for cannabis cultivation. The long history of cannabis use would only contribute to a well-developed cannabis and CBD market.
Considering everything, it’s likely that CBD in Australia and New Zealand will soon fall under friendlier regulations.
Final Thoughts: Buying CBD in Australasia
You can buy CBD if you live in New Zealand or Australia only with a prescription from an authorized prescriber, or by registering under the cannabis medical system.
In Papua New Guinea, there is no legal option to buy CBD — the country prohibits any cannabis possession and use, meaning you would be breaking the law if you try to import a CBD product.
If you live in New Zealand and want to buy CBD from a foreign country, you can use a mail forwarding service to get the product shipped at your address. When you make your order, make sure your product contains at least 98% CBD. Your best option is to shop for CBD isolate products (THC-free).
Australian authorities currently prohibit CBD import.
Laws are changing quickly in the Australasian region, meaning you’ll soon be able to buy CBD products online from foreign countries and, hopefully, from local stores.
CBD Gummies – What, Why and Where to buy in Australia
CBD products are quickly gaining popularity among Australian medical patients. CBD is known to have an assortment of therapeutic benefits and relieve an array of medical conditions. Although most popular in oil form, edibles like gummies provide an alternative method of consuming CBD.
In this article, we will outline some background on CBD gummies, how they are made and how you can access them in Australia.
What is CBD
CBD (aka Cannabidiol) is one of the many chemical compounds called cannabinoids found in cannabis. Unlike THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychoactive component of cannabis, CBD does not make you high.
We have no doubt you have already heard of the many health benefits of CBD. From relieving symptoms like pain, inflammation, seizures & epilepsy, to helping with PTSD, depression, anxiety and more.
CBD oils are currently the most common CBD product in the Australian market. The oil is created by isolating and extracting the CBD from a high CBD strain, and then further processed by diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil.
Please check out our complete guide to CBD oil in Australia for a more in-depth article on CBD oils.
CBD gummies are precisely what they sound like – a CBD edible in a gummy candy form.
CBD gummies are generally more accessible and discrete delivery method compared to other forms of CBD. Smoking cannabis flower or using dry herb vaporizers are still somewhat controversial and sometimes known to have negative health impacts. Some patients may also dislike the taste of CBD oil or are unable to swallow capsules.
This is where CBD gummies shine – they are discrete enough to consume in public and are easily chewed and swallowed, just like a regular gummy.
How CBD gummies work
Once the CBD gummy is consumed, it is absorbed by our gastrointestinal system and works its way to our liver and through to our circulatory system. The CBD is then released and interacts with tiny receptors within our endocannabinoid system (ECS) – altering our mood and bodily functions.
As our digestive system works at a relatively slow pace, it usually takes around 30 – 60 minutes for the effects to kick in. However, edibles are also one of the longer lasting delivery methods, with effects generally lasting longer than when inhaling or taken sublingually (tinctures).
Will CBD gummies make you high?
CBD by itself is non-psychoactive and will not give you the high or intoxicating effects associated with marijuana. The main psychoactive compound found in cannabis is THC, which is another cannabinoid found in marijuana plants.
There are three types of CBD products on the market:
CBD isolate – contains only CBD without any other cannabinoids
Broad-spectrum CBD – contains CBD and other cannabinoids, but generally no THC
Full-spectrum CBD – contains all cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, including THC.
In general, CBD isolate and broad-spectrum gummies contains little to no THC, and will not make you high. Refer to the manufacturers labelling to determine whether the product is free of THC.
Health benefits of CBD gummies
CBD has recently gained mainstream popularity due to its alleged therapeutic properties and medical applications. Recent research has demonstrated huge potential into supporting a variety of conditions including:
As a side note, there may be some potential side-effects with using CBD products. We strongly encourage our readers to consult a GP or a specialist clinic prior to administering any CBD products.
How CBD gummies are made
CBD gummies are generally made using the classic gummies recipe – sugar, glucose syrup, flavouring, citric acid, gelatin and food colouring. The secret ingredient, of course, is the added CBD extract.
Extracting CBD from cannabis is a complex process, usually involving using some form of solvent to separate the active compounds from the raw plant. Below are a few different methods of CBD extraction:
Once the CBD is extracted, further processing is done to combine the CBD isolate and gummy formula into the final product.
As with other confectionery products, the ingredients used in CBD gummies may vary. Some offerings may contain additives such as preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Patients with allergies and vegan requirements may be able to find products more suited to their needs. Look for organic products made with real sugar and natural flavourings.
Are CBD gummies legal in Australia?
As of Feb 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has allowed the sale of low dose CBD products over the counter. Unfortunately, companies wanting to supply low dose CBD products will require their product to be listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). This process involves rigorous testing and clinical trials before they can be officially sold by pharmacies. Due to the long approval process and many other factors, we are still yet to see any CBD products available over the counter as of today.
For Australians wanting to CBD gummies, there is currently only one legal pathway.
Similar to other cannabis products, access to CBD products requires TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) approval.
The process usually involves a consultation with a medical practitioner to determine your eligibility based on your medical history and condition. If CBD product is deemed suitable by the doctor, they will apply for approval on your behalf through the TGA.
Once approved, the doctor will provide you with a valid prescription and outline the process to obtain the CBD product depending on your state.
Legalities aside however, many Australians have resorted to buying CBD gummies on the grey market since the medical pathway is not the most straight forward.
How to choose CBD gummy products
Since CBD gummies come in different shapes and forms, it is hard to tell whether you are purchasing the right product. Below are a few points to consider when selecting the right CBD gummy brand.
Organically grown Cannabis
As CBD is extracted from cannabis, the source of the raw plant can have a huge effect on the end product. In our opinion, organically source will contain less toxins, pesticides, and other residuals that may affect the quality of the end product, and will be better for the environment.
As mentioned earlier, organic ingredients would be ideal for patients which may be sensitive to artificial flavouring and colours.
There may also be soy-free, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan options to suit different dietary requirements.
Most CBD gummy products will specify the amount of CBD per serving (E.g. 10mg CBD per gummy).
To get the best bang for your buck, work out the total serving size and CBD per mg vs the product price – but keeping into consideration the product quality as mentioned above.
Most reputable companies will have their product cannabinoid content lab tested by a third party. This ensures you are actually getting the CBD content that is advertised on the product.
It is best to avoid products which do not stipulate individual cannabinoid content or simply specifies “cannabis extracts” as the ingredients.
Access CBD gummies in Australia
A mentioned earlier in the article, the current only legal pathway is to access CBD products via a medical practitioner. However, many online retailers are offering products under the title of "Hemp oil" and "Hemp gummies" – many of which they claim contain CBD content.
The Grey Market
One such company is Premium Jane, who have built up a reputation in the US as a trusted provider of quality CBD isolate products. Their fully established Australian arm currently offer a range of "fully legal" hemp oil and gummy products. Based on their product lab-sheets from DBLabs, it seems most of them do contain low doses of CBD.
The jury is still out to whether these grey market products are as advertised, as they are not yet approved by the ARTG. It's also important to note that these range of products are purely sold as "Hemp" products and they do not claim to cure any medical conditions.
There are also many online distributors based in the US and Europe who offer international shipping of their CBD gummy products. Word of warning though – this is technically still illegal and we have heard from communities where their packages have been intercepted by Australian customs.
The Legal Path
If you are interested in finding a doctor in Australia with experience in prescribing cannabis products, check out our medicinal cannabis doctors directory to find one in your area.
We also have an in-depth guide on how to access CBD & medical marijuana in Australia if you wish to learn about the patient and doctor approval process.
CBD products and cannabis patients are steadily increasing year on year – with more than 100 different CBD products available in Australia since the start of 2020.
However, there are still limited CBD gummy products available for patients in the current market. The only accessible methods might be through importation with the help of a medical practitioner, or through one of the licensed cannabis suppliers in Australia.
We can only hope as cannabis laws mature in Australia and catch up with the rest of the world, more CBD products will become available for Australian patients.