Over the past few months we’ve delved into the history of CBD, its uses & benefits, the difference between CBD & THC, and how exactly cannabis affects your body via the endocannabinoid system. Just one question remains – how do I get my hands on it here in Australia?
The easiest and most cost-effective way to gain access to CBD or THC products in Australia is to grow them yourself. Google has thousands of online merchants selling seeds, and YouTube has many growing videos. If you know elementary gardening skills, then Cannabis is an easy and cost-effective plant to grow. Warning: if planting outside they can grow enormous!
If you do not want to put yourself at risk of a visit from the local blue team then at this present time there is only one way to gain access to medical cannabis in Australia legally. That is via the government approved access pathway otherwise known as the Special Access Scheme and this includes both CBD and THC infused products.
The reason why the government created this scheme was to give patients access to drugs that are not approved by the TGA (therapeutic goods administration). Since there are no cannabis products listed on the TGA (aside from Epidolex – a synthetic (yuck!) cannabinoid mouth spray used to treat MS and costing $745AUD for one month supply) this scheme is the only way to gain access to medical marijuana in Australia.
What's Up, Doc?
As the Doobie Brothers sang in 1989, "listen to the doctor, just like you ought to" – the best person to consult about medical cannabis is your doctor. They understand your medical history and should be your first discussion around any cannabis therapies for your treatment.
Under Australian law, medicinal cannabis is only available via prescription from a doctor and dispersed from a licensed pharmacy. As it is mostly an unregistered medicine, the doctor must be authorised to prescribe at both the Federal (Therapeutic Goods Administration; TGA) and State/Territory level (unfortunately this differs between States/Territories).
Know What To Say
Always remember: you must be your own advocate. Your doctor may be unfamiliar with medical cannabis and the treatment options available and therefore hesitant to recommend it.
Many doctors are still unfamiliar with current research that supports medical cannabis as a treatment plan. Bring documentation, studies and any other information that you believe will support your case; it is essential to understand the facts yourself and advise your doctor why you think this is the best treatment option for you.
As a patient you are entitled to unbiased and professional medical advice. Patients regularly ask doctors about different treatment options and medicinal marijuana is no different. Some medical professionals may have a negative attitude towards medical cannabis so it is very important for you to be informed about medical cannabis and the benefits so you can receive your doctor's support. Many doctors who are open to alternative forms of medicine (such as herbal or Chinese medicine traditions) are unwilling to consider cannabis, and a majority of doctors report that governing bodies in the medical and pharmaceutical industries unofficially direct them to “always say no” to patients who ask about cannabis.
7 Steps To Medical Cannabis
- Make a list of medicines and treatments you have tried for your symptoms. Identify which worked and which didn't.
- Identify symptoms that you believe could be managed better with medical cannabis.
- Describe the symptoms in detail.
- Advise how you are planning on using medical cannabis (tincture, vaporisation.)
- If you are currently using cannabis, explain the amount you use and how often you use it.
- Ask your doctor to recommend a dose and delivery method applicable to your treatment.
- Arrange your prescription and a referral to a GMP certified medical cannabis supplier.
Bring a secondary caregiver, family member or friend for support to make it easier if you are too nervous to bring the subject up. If your doctor is unable to assist you with access to medical cannabis, we can recommend a wide range of doctors that can assist in this area.
FAQs on CBD, Cannabis and Marijuana
Will CBD make me feel “high” or “stoned”?
No. This is because it contains no “psychoactive” element. Other parts of the cannabis plant do contain psychoactive elements, and this is what makes people feel “high” or “stoned”. CBD doesn’t. Learn more.
What happens if my doctor says no?
Many doctors are still unfamiliar with the current research that supports medical cannabis as a treatment plan. Bring documentation, studies and any other information that you believe will support your case; it is important to understand the facts yourself and advise your doctor why you think this is the best treatment option for you.
As a patient you are entitled to unbiased and professional medical advice. Patients regularly ask doctors about different treatment options and medical cannabis is no different. Some medical professionals may have a negative attitude towards medical cannabis so it is important for you to be informed about medical cannabis and the benefits so you can receive your doctor's support. If they do not approve you for access to medical cannabis, please consult another healthcare professional or contact our team via our contact form and we can recommend you a doctor.
I’ve heard of people buying CBD online, is this safe?
Yes, you can safely purchase any CBD product online. Like anything, there’s a big difference in quality based on who you buy from. Ensure you purchase from a reputable seller that has a number of genuine reviews and the online store can demonstrate third party testing on the product. This is important to ensure that the CBD contains the correct amount of cannabinoids, and also to safeguard against heavy metals and other substances being present. Like other natural substances, CBD can become tainted in the production process if it is poorly extracted.
I don’t care about the law, I’m going to buy it online anyway. How do I ensure that I’m getting good quality CBD?
We don't recommend breaking the law, but we do recommend doing your research before making any important decision. When purchasing a CBD product it’s crucial to ensure you are receiving full plant extracts over synthetic cannabis or isolates. Every reputable source will always tell you where their CBD comes from and if it doesn’t say full plant extracts - we recommend not to buy. Full plant extracts ensure all terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids are left inside the product, which ensures that they all work together in a synergy which is commonly referred to as “the entourage effect”.
Can I drive whilst being treated with medicinal cannabis?
Patients should not drive or operate machinery while being treated with medicinal cannabis. In addition measurable concentrations of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the main psychoactive substance in cannabis) can be detected in urine many days after the last dose. It may take up to five days for 80 to 90 per cent of the dose to be excreted. Drug-driving is a criminal offence, and patients should discuss the implications for safe and legal driving with their doctor.
Does CBD show up in blood tests or roadside swab tests?
No. They only test for active THC, and there is not enough THC content in CBD oils for it to show positive. To be certain, make sure to ask your supplier about the percentage of THC in your CBD oil.
Article by Cormac Sheehan. Have other questions? Just ask! We’re always here to answer, and we’re passionate about education.
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