Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) revealed plans last week to reassign CBD-based medical cannabis as a Schedule 3 medication.
According to our recent report, the re-scheduling would permit a handful of CBD medications to be sold over the counter in chemists. To be eligible, medications would need to contain at least 98% cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component.
However, new research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy suggests the approach may not benefit patients longterm.
Under the current proposal, pharmacists would be permitted to sell one months dose of medication at a maximum dose of 60mg daily. However, this dose is significantly lower than the standard dose given as relief for patients with insomnia, anxiety, epilepsy and chronic pain.
Co-author Professor Iain McGregor is the academic director of Sydney University’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics. He was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying:
There is no good quality evidence that 60mg does anything useful.
Dr McGregor’s study cites current dosing evidence which suggests that between 300 and 400mg of CBD daily is a more appropriate dose for Australian patients. Without a sufficient dose, Dr McGregor study warns that patients will continue to source cannabis illegally.
While over 50,000 Australians have access to cannabis through the Special Access Scheme, a further 600,000 are thought to be self-medicating with cannabis.
Dr McGregor’s stance is also supported by the World Health Organisation. In 2018, WHO recommended pure CBD products be removed from international drug control, as WHO does not believe CBD has the potential for abuse or dependence.
TGA’s recommendations are based on a Senate enquiry from earlier this year. The enquiry found that low-dose CBD products would benefit patients when sold over-the-counter.
TGA is due to announce their final decision in November this year and is permitting public comments until October 13.