Over-the-counter medicinal cannabis plan not what it seems, experts warn

Medicinal cannabis could be available over-the-counter in Australia by next year as the national medicines regulator weighs a proposal to allow it to be sold without a prescription, but some experts warn the approach could backfire.

New research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy suggests the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s plan to allow chemists to sell a month’s worth of cannabidiol at a maximum dose of 60mg per day is unlikely to benefit patients – who were likely to “self medicate” instead.

The paper’s co-author Professor Iain McGregor, academic director of Sydney University’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, said much higher doses were needed to give relief to patients with chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety and epilepsy.

“There is no good quality evidence that 60mg does anything useful,” Professor McGregor said.

The TGA last week released an interim decision to amend the Poisons Standard to allow cannabidiol to be sold over the counter at the restricted dose to adults, inviting public comment until October 13 with a final decision due in late November and implementation in February.

Professor McGregor warned that without appropriate dosing, thousands of such patients may instead continue “self medicating” with illicit use of cannabis, which unlike cannabidiol products contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive compound that gets users high. [Read more @ The Sydney Morning Herald]

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