Byron company hopes to engage in cannabis oil trials
There is still work to be done before Australians will be able to access CBD (cannabis) oil over-the-counter at pharmacies.
But approval of this easier access to low-dose versions of the product, which came into effect on February 1, means manufacturers are looking to engage in lengthy approvals processes.
Matt Cantelo is the CEO of Australian Natural Therapeutics Group, which is moving its head office to Byron Bay and has a growing operation in the New England area.
Mr Cantelo stressed patients cannot currently access any form of CBD over-the-counter.
"You won't be able to for some time," he said.
He said there's no clear evidence as to whether low doses have any clinical efficacy and extensive trials will have to consider this.
"We've been researching low-dose CBD for some time," Mr Cantelo said.
"At the moment there's little evidence that CBD at low doses is effective for treating anything."
While COVID-19 has seen the acceleration of particular clinical trials, Mr Cantelo said they were looking at six months to two years before there were any clear results, "especially for conditions that require really extensive clinical trials".
The approval now in place means people could potentially access over-the-counter CBD oil doses of up 150mg a day.
Currently, patients with particular conditions can access much higher doses by way of a prescription.
Mr Cantelo said those who access the scheme now for severe conditions like seizure-related diseases would not likely be helped sufficiently by a low-dosage product.
"It's still unproven as to whether 150mg per day works on any conditions at all," he said.
"As an industry we have to put our money where our mouth is."
"ANTG is certainly doing this, a number of other companies will be doing that as well.
"We've been collating data from around the world for some time looking at all the various conditions."
He hopes ANTG can engage with clinical trials.
He said it was important for people to understand "the facts" around the current situation, after some news reports in recent days suggested CBD was already available over-the-counter.
Some pharmacies have had people now requesting a product that is not yet available, he said.