This week’s media coverage of over-the-counter CBD has caused a surge in enquiries that healthcare professionals are struggling to cope with. Martin Lane investigates.

Hyped-up press coverage about the availability of over-the-counter CBD has left pharmacists and GPs dealing with an unprecedented wave of disappointed customers, according to an investigation by Cannabiz.

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February 1 saw new regulations come into force making low-dose CBD available without a script, but products will require TGA approval and inclusion on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) along with a number of other restrictions.

Based on the requirement for ARTG registration, no CBD medicine is currently available which could be supplied over the counter and it may take another 12 months for that to happen.

However, stories in the mainstream media this week – some including commentary from cannabis companies themselves – inevitably focused on the availability of CBD rather than the nuances of the TGA’s decision.

In doing so, the coverage created a surge in demand that pharmacists have been unable to fulfill.

Lisa Nguyen, founder of Astrid Dispensary, a green dispensary specialising in cannabinoid medicines in South Yarra, Victoria said “every second customer” has asked about over-the-counter CBD. Other pharmacists have also contacted her asking what they should tell customers.

“My patients are very confused. They’ve seen on the news that CBD is available over the counter and we have to explain the nuances of the TGA to them,” Nguyen said. “They say ‘what’s the TGA?’. It’s not what they want to hear.”

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...