Is CBD Oil Legal in Australia? Legality vs Medical Cannabis

Is CBD Oil Legal in Australia

Understanding whether CBD oil is legal in Australia is critical if you’re looking to buy or use it. Developments in Australian regulation in recent years have changed the legal treatment for CBD products.

These changes came in light of CBD’s safety, health benefits, legalisation overseas and shifts in cultural perception of cannabis.

CBD Oil Products in Australian Shop

The good news is that CBD oil is legal in Australia now. This has been the case since 2016; however, laws have been updated further in 2021 to improve access to the product. Certain restrictions continue to apply to where and how CBD oil can be bought in Australia and the types of products available.

Woman Holding CBD oil in Australia

High-strength CBD products still need a doctor’s prescription. But low-dose CBD oil can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies and elsewhere. Let’s understand whether CBD oil is legal in Australia and regulations before buying it.

Is CBD Oil Legal in Australia?

Legality of CBD oil in Australia

CBD oil is legal in Australia today. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) controls the sale and distribution of this product in Australia. 

This body originally legalised CBD oil in 2016 as a medical-grade, prescription-only (Schedule 3) ‘cannabis medicine’. Under this classification, CBD oil could be prescribed by licensed doctors in Australia, but purchases without a restriction were banned.

Liquid CBD Extract

In 2021, the TGA revised these rules. CBD oil was reclassed as a Schedule 4 medication in Australia, enabling it to be bought in pharmacies as an over-the-counter product. Caps on product strengths and CBD dosages still apply. In other words, accessibility and ease of purchase for CBD products in Australia increased substantially.

Why Did CBD Laws in Australia Change?

Woman Considering CBD Oil Laws

The TGA’s decision to legalise and reschedule CBD oil resulted from shifts in the Australian regulatory landscape. 

  • Public Demand: Consumers’ usage, awareness, and demand for CBD products in Australia were already high before the TGA updated access laws. Many people were already taking CBD oil for health issues like anxiety or arthritis. Obtaining doctor’s prescriptions for CBD oil was also commonplace. These requests created health system burdens. Reclassification improved convenience for both doctors and patients.
  • Overseas Regulatory Changes: Many countries have already successfully legalised CBD and cannabis products, which was a factor in the TGA’s decision. For example, the US has successfully legalised cannabis in many states since 2012. Observing other countries enabled the TGA to understand safety risks more deeply, weighing potential health risks with public demand. Enabling purchases only via pharmacies initially was a mechanism to reinforce safety. Pharmacists have the credentials to advise customers on safely using CBD oil. They’re able to help them prevent medication interactions or adverse side effects.
  • Healthcare Burden: Pharmacists and shops selling low-dose CBD oil reduce the load on Australia’s healthcare system. These products are most commonly prescribed for milder forms of anxiety, pain, arthritis, or inflammation. It’s often not worth a doctor’s valuable time to prescribe them. Enabling broader availability of CBD means better resource allocation for medical staff. It also balances consumer safety, well-being, and CBD oil accessibility.

What are the Current Restrictions on CBD Products?

CBD Product Restrictions Australia

Although CBD oil is legal in Australia, there are still some restrictions that apply.

Over the Counter 

Without a prescription (over-the-counter purchasing), you’re only able to buy CBD oil with the following characteristics:

  • Low-dose: This is classified as containing 150mg of CBD per day. There is a hard cap on the daily quantity of CBD a product can include without a doctor’s sign-off.
  • 30mL Size: bottles of CBD oil purchased legally are restricted to liquid volume sizes of 30mL per product.
  • 30-day supply: Under current guidelines, up to 30 days of CBD doses can be supplied per CBD oil product.
  • Product type: CBD oils are the only products currently available. CBD gummies, vapes, edibles, capsules, and other products are unavailable.
Medical Weed Australia

With a prescription for CBD oil, you have a wider variety of product strength and type choices.

  • High-dose: dosages aren’t capped the same way for prescription CBD oil from a doctor. Very high-strength products such as 6000mg CBD oil or more are now available.
  • Multiple sizes: Sizes are also a differentiating factor from prescription CBD products, which can come in larger bottles of 60mL or more.
  • Multiple product types: There are fewer restrictions on prescription CBD products. These aren’t limited to CBD oil like lose-dose products. For example, CBD flowers, vapes, and CBD gummies are often available via prescription.

In all cases, CBD products must have less than 0.3% of THC or other cannabinoids in Australia. If they have above this quantity, they are considered a restricted cannabis medication. These controls are in place due to the potential dangers of THC and its higher harm risks.

Each CBD product must also be signed off by the TGA to be sold in Australia. The TGA assesses every product to confirm its purity, safety, and regulatory compliance. Approved products are added to the TGA’s register for controlled goods.

Which CBD Products are Legal?

Legal CBD Products Australia

Legal CBD products in Australia have limitations on the types and formulations of products that can be sold.

There are three main formulations of CBD available in Australia today: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. Any of the three formulations can be purchased without a prescription, providing it has less than 0.3% THC and meets the low-dose CBD requirements.

  • Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all phytocompounds from cannabis, including minor cannabinoids and terpenes. 
  • Broad-spectrum CBD Oil contains all cannabinoids from hemp except THC. Like full-spectrum products, it is advantageous because it contains terpenes and minor cannabinoids.
  • CBD isolate is a high-purity CBD extract with no other hemp phytocompounds or minor cannabinoids. It’s favoured for people who are drug tested as it doesn’t risk THC intake.
Australian Man Holding CBD Oil

A limitation on buying CBD oil without a prescription in Australia is that you are limited on product choice. For instance, you can’t buy CBD flowers, gummies or capsules without a script.

You can only obtain these products by getting them prescribed by a doctor. A separate option is shopping for them online in Australia, which has legal risks for those buying unapproved items without medical oversight.

High Strength CBD Legality

High dose CBD Oil Australia

In Australia, you can’t buy high-strength CBD products without a prescription. These products contain more than 150mg of CBD per day and are Schedule 4 goods, restricted to pharmacy purchases via prescriptions only.

In some cases, more substantial CBD quantities are needed, which is where a doctor’s visit will be required. High-dose CBD oil must still contain under 0.3% THC to be classified as a CBD product (versus medical cannabis).

CBD vs Medical Cannabis Legality

CBD Tincture Legality

In Australia, the legal status of CBD and medical cannabis differ. Both substances are controlled and regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), but each has differing access pathways and restrictions. Keep in mind that neither is currently legal for recreational purposes.

  • CBD is legal and can be bought without a prescription. It isn’t psychoactive, so it has a low risk of mental harm, unlike medical cannabis. This is reflected in its scheduling by the TGA and in its more accessible means of obtainment.
  • Medical cannabis, in contrast, is strictly controlled because of its psychoactivity. Buying it is much more complicated due to it being a Schedule 3 Drug and regulated under the Australian Narcotic Act. This means that the sale, possession and use of cannabis without a medical prescription is treated more punitively. Compared to CBD, medical cannabis is also prescribed for far fewer conditions. It’s primarily used as a treatment option for chronic pain, nausea, chemotherapy weight loss and certain nerve conditions. 

There are multiple ways to obtain both CBD and medical cannabis today in Australia. Each method is defined under the Special Access Scheme for doctors and patients. It describes the steps and rules involved in applying to obtain prescription cannabis or CBD access. Doctors must have a special license to prescribe. They can also only do so for specific, pre-defined conditions laid out by the TGA.

Medical Cannabis Cultivation Regulation

Hemp Cultivation Laws

In Australia, the cultivation of medical cannabis and industrial hemp is very heavily regulated. These regulations are related but distinct from those that guide the sale and distribution of CBD or cannabis products for consumers. Cannabis plants can only be grown by approved, licensed growers in Australia.

The ODC (Office of Drug Control) in Australia administers the approvals, audit and licensing of cannabis farms. This applies to all forms of cannabis, including industrial hemp and medical cannnabis. It guarantees that cannabis cultivation is consistent with Australia’s obligations to the international Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, formed in 1961. 

Medical Cannabis Farm in Australia

Compliance with regulation is why cannabis farming is so controlled. Authorities have a strong interest in ensuring medicinal cannabis is produced safely and with high-quality standards. Doing so safeguards medical cannabis suppliers, Australia’s international reputation, and patient well-being.

What Hemp Products Are Legal in Australia?

Hemp Product Legality Australia

Now you understand whether CBD oil is legal in Australia and how its legality differs from medical cannabis, let’s compare it to other hemp products.

Hemp isn’t just used to make CBD oil or medical cannabis. There are many food, skincare and oil products derived from it today. Often, these products are confused with CBD or cannabis oil. But they are regulated and treated differently.

Hemp Oil

Hemp Oil in Australia

Hemp oil in Australia is made from the industrial hemp plant. It’s extracted from each plant part, including stalks, leaves, seeds and buds. The ODC classified these as dietary food products, not therapeutic goods.

Hemp oil is not controlled like CBD oil and can be purchased anywhere today. You don’t need a prescription for it. It’s used for culinary purposes or health food products. Unlike CBD or medical cannabis, hemp oil doesn’t have any cannabinoids in it, like THC or CBD. It is made from industrial hemp.

Hemp Seed Oil

Woman Shopping for Hemp Seed Oil in Retail Store

Hemp seed oil is often confused with hemp oil. These products differ in their origin. Unlike hemp oil, a whole plant extract, Hemp seed oil is only extracted from hemp seeds. Both are made from industrial hemp. Hemp seed oil is regulated under the Food Standards Code, which stipulates it must be derived from low-THC hemp seeds. Detectable THC has to be under several parts per million for legal compliance.

Hemp Foods

Australian Woman Holding CBD Oil

Other foods from hemp, like hemp powders, hemp protein or hemp tea, are not regulated by the TGA or controlled products. These are dietary items that are used for nutritional purposes. For example, hemp protein is a supplement many vegan health enthusiasts take for exercise recovery. Hemp tea can be made from hemp leaves, prized for its unique hemp flavour. Others use hemp hearts or hemp flour in baking, cooking and culinary dishes. Vegans and plant-food lovers favour hemp because of its rich, full-bodied flavour profile.

Hemp Skincare

Australian Hemp Skincare Range

Topical hemp products like hemp balms, moisturisers, facial serums, and hemp ointments are all legal in Australia. They can’t contain CBD or THC, however. They are regulated like any other skincare product because they only use hemp oil in their formulation. Hemp skincare is seeing a significant increase in popularity because of hemp’s potent antioxidative and cleansing effects for skin health. Many companies now incorporate it into body wash, soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. Hemp creams or balms are non-comedogenic. As such, they help to moisturise and nourish the skin without blocking pores or causing dryness.


CBD Tincture in Kitchen

Although CBD oil is legal in Australia now, strict controls still apply regarding its sale and usage. CBD oil can be purchased today in low-dose formulations from pharmacies and other locations but must contain under 0.3% THC. Low-dose CBD products can only come in specific sizes and product types (oils only). A prescription is needed for high-dose CBD oil or other types of CBD products like gummies. This can be filled in a participating pharmacy. Medical cannabis products containing THC are even more restricted due to being a Schedule 3 drug. 

Because THC can have more risk and potential harm (such as psychosis), laws regulating cannabis (containing THC) are more stringent. On the other hand, hemp oil, hemp seed oil and other hemp foods that don’t contain cannabinoids are treated as dietary products under regulation. These are perfectly legal and can be purchased in most supermarkets or health food shops. Keep legality distinctions between CBD, medical cannabis and hemp products in mind when you shop. It’s essential to avoid confusing these products in Australia because of the potential legal risks involved.


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