Medical cannabis became legal in Australia in 2016. Since then, the variety of products that are available to patients has broadened, which also includes a diverse offering of cannabis delivery formulations.
Here is a rundown on the medical cannabis is available in Australia.
Categories of Medical Cannabis in Australia
Medical cannabis in Australia is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA classifies medical cannabis into five categories of medical cannabis. The categories look at the amount of CBD contained within the entire cannabinoid profile.
Category 1: The first is for products that contain CBD only and do not have much THC at all.
Category 2: These products have some THC – approximately 2% – but are predominately CBD.
Category 3: These options have a much more balanced CBD:THC ratio of about 60% to 40%.
Category 4: These products do contain CBD, but 60% to 98% of the cannabinoid content is from THC.
Category 5: Products are the highest in THC at up to 98%, with the remaining 2% naturally occurring CBD.
What Types of Medicinal Cannabis is Available to Australian Patients?
There is a growing variety of cannabis-based options for patients in Australia, at least 224 according to a 2021 report from FreshLeaf Analytics. Options cover a wide variety of formulations with different onset times and lasting effects.
The classic cannabis form, cannabis flower is dried and broken into small segments so patients can vaporise and inhale it. This method delivers a swift and intense onset that tapers off with a short duration. Flower generally appeals to patients over age 18.
While cannabis oil is quite versatile and has a variety of applications, in this context “oils” refers to a product that should be ingested as a tincture under the tongue. Again, as with medical cannabis products that are taken orally, onset is slower but duration provides long-lasting relief.
Capsules are made of coated cannabis oils and are ingested orally. Onset will be on the slower than flower and the duration of the effects will be longer. Patients usually start with flower or oil before taking capsules. Usually it’s a more expensive option.
Cannabis creams are popular among patients who are seeking localised pain relief. They are applied directly to the skin, which absorbs the CBD and/or THC that is present in the cream.
Interestingly, topical options are non-intoxicating, making them a great option for patients worried about getting high. Onset will also be on the slower side, but duration relief should last for hours.
Lozenges and Wafers
Like capsules, medical cannabis lozenges and wafers are taken orally. Similar to capsules, these edibles will have a slower onset, but the duration of the impacts is on the longer side. They have the added bonus of a pleasant flavour.
Medical cannabis can also be administered via an oral spray. Both onset and duration will be similar to that of a lozenge or wafer.
Bubble hash is named after the sound it makes when vaporised. This form of cannabis is made through a formulation process using ice water that separates the resin from the flower. Onset will be swift and the effects will be strong, but tend to dissipate rather quickly in comparison to oils or capsules.
What Products Aren’t Available in Australia?
While there is a diversity of medical cannabis products currently on the market in Australia, there are some items that can be found elsewhere – such as in the United States – that are not for sale.
These include cannabis beverages, edibles like chocolate-infused candies, and cannabis concentrates like shatter and waxes that are commonly used in dabbing applications. These forms are generally not used for medical purposes and it is unclear if these options will be approved in the Australian medical market.
The Future of Medicinal Cannabis in Australia
In the last five years of legal medical cannabis, the options available to Australian patients have steadily increased. No matter your personal preferences or condition, there is an impressive variety of cannabis products accessible.
Find out what options may work for you, and book a consultation with alternaleaf to speak with qualified doctors who are highly experienced in medical cannabis.