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Is CBD legal in Australia?

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There is no doubt you’ve already heard of the many therapeutic benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), whether in CBD oil, edible or whole plant form. If you’ve stumbled upon this article wondering whether CBD products is legal in Australia, the short answer is yes, but with a valid prescription.

In most Australian states, in order for you to “legally” access CBD products, you will require a prescription from a medical practitioner.

There is however an exception for residents of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Since January 2020, ACT became the first jurisdiction to decriminalise the recreational use of cannabis without penalties. This means ACT residents are allowed to possess and grow small amounts of cannabis for personal use.

In this article, we will run through a few different topics relating to the legalities of CBD and the steps on accessing cannabis products in Australia.

Is CBD legal in Australia?

As mentioned earlier, for most Australian states except the ACT, CBD products are only legal for users with a valid medical prescription.

In 2016, amendments to the "Narcotic Drug Amendments Act" were made to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis Australia wide. This change allowed doctors access to prescribe cannabis products with approval from the TGA via a Special Access Scheme or as an Authorised Prescriber.

In short, patients wanting access to CBD products will first need to consult with a doctor. Once the doctor deems the patient eligible, they will apply to prescribe CBD products on the patient’s behalf through the TGA.

How can I access CBD products?

For medical patients, the first step is to consult with a doctor. For most Australian state and territories (except Tasmania), all medical practitioners will be able to prescribe cannabis products. For Tasmanian residents, you will need to find an appointed medical specialist or clinic in order to have medicinal cannabis products prescribed.

However, due to lack of education and stigma surrounding marijuana, some doctors may not be open to cannabis therapy at all.

The video below (curtesy of Hinterland co) features Dr Teh and Dr Rickcord outlining why most Australian doctors are still risk-adverse and lacking the required knowledge for prescribing medicinal cannabis:

If your current doctor is sceptical with cannabis as a treatment, the best option may be to try another doctor. There are already plenty of Australian doctors who are informed on cannabis therapy and familiar with the TGA application process. You can also reach out to clinics that specialise in prescribe cannabis products exclusively. Depending on the clinic or practice, there may be different consultation fees and other associated costs. Make sure you ask about and understand the cost structure prior to your first consultation.

Refer to our directory of medical cannabis doctors and clinics in Australia to find a medical practitioner in your area.

What are the pathways to access CBD products for doctors

In Australia, therapeutic goods that can be lawfully supplied to consumers is approved and listed by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). Put simply, products not on the ARTG cannot be supplied to medical patients under normal circumstances.

Most cannabis products like CBD oil or dried flower are currently not listed on the ARTG. In order for doctors to prescribe CBD products, they must have TGA approval through one of the following pathways:

Special Access Scheme (SAS)

The SAS pathways allow medical practitioners to prescribe cannabis products on a patient by patient basis, with each application evaluated by the TGA individually.

Factors for TGA approval will depend on the patient’s medical history and whether or not they’ve already tried or considered other forms of treatment prior to considering cannabis products.

Authorised Prescriber (AP)

The other option for doctors to prescribe unapproved ARTG products is to become an Authorised Prescriber. This allows them to prescribe products such as CBD oil for a particular condition or class of patients in their immediate care without further TGA approval.

Is it legal to drive after consuming CBD?

person driving

Before answering this question, it is important to note that not all CBD products are the same. Some products may contain other cannabis compounds such as THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient that is responsible for the cannabis “high”.

In the current state of Australian law, it is illegal to have any amount of THC in your system while driving. Most roadside drug tests will not detect CBD, so put broadly, it is safe to drive with CBD in your system.

In reality, it comes down to the type of CBD product being consumed:

  • CBD Isolate - Only contains pure CBD extracts, without any other cannabinoids and terpenes.

  • Full-spectrum CBD - Contains the whole cannabis plant’s cannabinoids, including THC.

  • Broad-spectrum CBD - Contains most of the cannabinoids except for THC.

Based on the CBD product type, traces of THC be present and can show up on roadside tests.

In conclusion, it is best to refer to the product ingredients and lab-tested results before considering driving when using CBD products. Any amount of THC in the CBD product will likely show up on a drug test, which is illegal in most Australian jurisdictions.

Refer to our guide on how long cannabis stays in your system to find out how long THC can remain detectable if you are using full-spectrum products.

Can I buy CBD products online?

Whilst CBD is illegal without a prescription, it hasn’t stopped some Aussies from ordering online via various websites. There are plenty of sites claiming to stock genuine CBD products, from both international and local sources.

We would strongly advise not to purchase from these black market online sources. Although there have been claims of success, obtaining CBD products this way is still illegal and hard to guarantee the quality of the product or the actual CBD content. In some cases, it could end up being confiscated by Australian customs and you may lose your hard earned dollars.

Is it legal to import CBD products?

Importing any products containing CBD is generally prohibited in Australia, with the exception of the following:

  • Licensed manufacturers and importers

  • Medical practitioner importation

Licensed manufacturers and importers

In order to import cannabis products for medical use, all importers must first obtain relevant import license and permits. These are granted by the Australian Government and are usually heavily regulated.

Refer to the importation of controlled substances page on the OCD website for more information on the import licence and permit application process.

Medical practitioner importation

Cannabis products can also be imported with the help of a medical practitioner. An application must be submitted by the medical practitioner prior to importing under the Special Access Schemes A or B.

Closing remarks

We hope this article has answered your question on whether CBD products can be accessed legally in Australia. In summary, unless you reside in the ACT, you will require a valid prescription from a doctor to get your hands on CBD products.

If you are lucky enough to live in the ACT, you are allowed to possess and grow small amounts of cannabis for personal use. For all other states and territories, you will have to find a medical practitioner familiar with cannabis products and the TGA application process in order to access CBD products.
Make sure you check out our article on accessing CBD and medicinal marijuana in Australia if you are interested in a more in-depth guide on accessing CBD products.

Jason Lu | BudHerd

Jason Lu | BudHerd

Jason is one of the lead editors and founder of BudHerd. He spends his days writing, designing, developing and researching all things cannabis. Jason is passionate about destigmatising and educating Australians on the therapeutic and recreational values of cannabis.
The statements made on this website are for information and educational purposes. BudHerd and its affiliates are not recommending anyone to use or cultivate cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes. Please consult with your doctor before using medicinal cannabis to learn about the associated negative side effects. Medicinal cannabis is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia and more details about cannabis as a scheduled drug can be found on their website.