Largely due to the boom in popularity that CBD oil experienced across the world in 2018, the public’s curiosity in the product has peaked, but with that comes legal questions. One common question is if whether CBD is legal in Australia.
Is CBD Legal in Australia? In Australia, CBD and other ‘medicinal cannabis’ products from the Hemp plant can only be prescribed by a registered medical practitioner following an in-depth assessment of the patient’s condition and individual circumstances.
If the doctor finds that medicinal cannabis is a relevant, useful product to prescribe they themselves would then have to apply for approval to prescribe it under state laws. These rules can vary state by state.
Patients themselves cannot apply to the relevant authorities to gain access to medicinal cannabis products.
CBD and other ‘medicinal cannabis’ products are not seen as or registered as medicines in Australia, with one exception being Nabiximols (widely known as Sativex) which helps to treat symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
Access to these products is limited to special pathways for such unapproved medicines. These pathways import the most common forms of medicinal cannabis products like vapes, oils, topicals, and tinctures from Canada or Europe. In 2018, locally grown equivalents were made available.
The CBD gained under prescription will legally contain 2% or less of other cannabinoids found in cannabis (THC being the main ‘other cannabinoid’).
THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis plants, CBD does not produce any psychoactive side effects.
Many variables have to be considered with CBD because it depends on the product, the quality of it and how some people metabolize CBD differently, just as with any biohacking supplement.
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Legal Hemp products in Australia and importing them
According to the law in Australia, the seeds of the hemp plant are the only part allowed for consumption by humans, extracts that come from any other part of the plant such as the leaves or stalks (which is where most of the CBD is contained) are seen as a drug.
Hemp in food is legally allowed the following legalization in 2017 as industrial hemp has THC levels around 0.03%.
Products like Hemp seed oil, protein shakes, and milk are some examples of what is legal for ‘human consumption’.
Substances which can be imported without permission (according to The Office of Drug Control Australia) are:
- Hulled hemp seeds
- Hemp seed meal
- Hemp fiber
- Hemp seed oil if:
- The total CBD content is equivalent to or less than 0.0075% (75mg/kg)
- The total THC content is equivalent to or less than 0.005% (50mg/kg)
Products which can be imported without import permission (according to The Office of Drug Control Australia) are:
Any products containing hulled hemp seeds, derived from hemp, and/or hemp seed oil as long as:
- They do not contain another drug
- They only contain extracts from the seeds, no other plant of the Hemp plan
- The total CBD content is equivalent to or less than 0.0075% (75 mg/kg)
- The total THC content is equivalent to or less than 0.005% (50 mg/kg)
Imported substances and products must also not:
- claim or imply that the product has a psychoactive effect
- make nutritional content or health claims about cannabidiol
- include images of any part of the Cannabis sativa plant other than the seed
- include the words ‘cannabis’, ‘marijuana’ or words of similar meaning
Hemp seed oil vs CBD oil
It’s important to understand the difference between the legal and readily available Hemp seed oil and strict prescription-only CBD oil. Hemp oil contains 0% THC and traces of (little to no) CBD. Meaning that Hemp oil does not provide the health benefits that CBD can, such as relieving chronic pain or reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
That said, Hemp oil is being labeled as a ‘superfood’, with high levels of proteins and essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6. Just don’t take or consume Hemp seed oil expecting the health benefits that CBD supposedly gives.
Hemp seed oil can be listed as cannabis Sativa seed oil on the packaging. CBD can be listed as any of cannabidiol, full-spectrum hemp or hemp oil.
The lack of any THC or even CBD comes from how the oil is made. The clue is in the name, Hemp SEED oil.
The way the oil is made is by cold pressing the seeds and extracting the oil. The seeds of Hemp plants do not contain any cannabinoids like THC or CBD, these are contained in the stalks and leaves and even there they are usually found in legal, medicinal amounts.
Australia is one of the strictest English-speaking countries in its laws on CBD oil. It is illegal to possess without a prescription (which can only be gained following a thorough examination process) and cannot be gained without one.
Contrast this to America and the United Kingdom where CBD oil is legal and widely available as long as it contains, in the UK, less than 0.2% THC content and for the majority of the US, less than 0.3% THC content.