Renewed government warnings over the potentially grave health risks of buying illegal medicinal cannabis online – including fake branded product – will go unheeded unless consumers are given more pragmatic reasons to seek medicine through legal channels, it has been claimed.

Senior industry executives broadly welcomed the fresh initiative from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which, in effect, warned consumers they were playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette by sourcing illicit product online.

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Product could be “unsafe, of poor quality or contain a different dose than that claimed on the label”, the TGA said, adding that substandard medicine could be “hazardous”.

Think again: the TGA is urging consumers to resist the temptation to order cheaper medicinal cannabis online

“Beware of buying medicines online. It may seem like a simple, affordable option but products bought over the internet may be a serious risk to your health and a waste of money,” it advised.

The issue of accessing cheap, illegal medicinal cannabis online has long been a problem in Australia, and elsewhere.

Asked what prompted the new warnings, the TGA told Cannabiz it was part of a general awareness drive and “not in response to any one matter or investigation”.

In the warning posted on its website, the regulator warned against the risk of online operators purporting to offer legitimate product.

“Products bought on the black market, especially from online sellers that do not request a doctor’s prescription, are unlikely to achieve the desired results and can be very dangerous,” the TGA said. “Counterfeit (fake) products mimic authentic goods but may contain undeclared hazardous ingredients.