Australia really does have a peculiar poisons regulation system, particularly when you want to access a non-psychoactive version of medical cannabis, in the form of hemp.
Although doctors can now legally prescribe medical marijuana they can only do so if they register at the federal and state levels for authorisation to prescribe, but as yet there is no suitable product available in the system to prescribe.
Possibly eighty percent of the prescribing requirement will simply be in the form of cold-pressed hemp oil, the only way you can get it is through illegal channels.
Even standardised hemp oil available from from Israeli, Canadian or European sources have been blocked by authorities and importation denied.
So what is all the regulatory fuss about?
Do you realise that hemp products are classified as foods substances in every other country in the world – except for Australia and New Zealand?
Why are hemp foods illegal in Australia?
Hemp foods are not permitted for human consumption in Australia under laws regulated by FSANZ (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.) Standard 1.4.4 – Prohibited and Restricted Plants and Fungi in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) prohibits all species of Cannabis from being added to food or sold as food in Australia and New Zealand.
Previous attempts to change the code to remove Hemp have failed, including an application in 2002 and a review in 2012.
FSANZ recommended that Hemp be approved as a food source after that application, but hemp regulation still was not translated to appropriate legislation.
John Howard derailed the proposition to allow Hemp foods sending a hand-written unexplained note to all the ministers saying “Hemp NO WAY!”
So the prohibition still remains.
The FSANZ report stated that: It was satisfied that low THC Hemp foods are safe for consumption when they contain no more than specified maximum levels (MLs) of THC.
Foods derived from Hemp seeds may provide a useful dietary source of many nutrients including polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.
Hemp foods have no psychoactive properties and therefore could not be detected in drug tests.
Hemp grows distinctively different to Marijuana and would easily be detectable by drug enforcement agencies.
Today, the code still prohibits hemp as a food.
If, as the Australian Food Regulation Authority has acknowledged, hemp foods are safe, are not psychoactive in any consumable quantity, can provide valuable nutrition that Australians need, and contain less than the allowable level of THC (or none at all) then it should be a “no-brainer”.
Growing Marijuana in amongst a hemp crop would also make the marijuana less potent (as a drug).
Hemp crops are readily identified (they are a different variety), and hemp cannot cause people to fail a drug test
Why again is hemp prohibited as a food?
Hemp was originally brought to Australia with the First Fleet to be used to produce a food staple crop.
Since then it has sustained many rural Australians during at least two major droughts lasting up to seven years duration.
In 1941, Henry Ford made a prototype car, built almost entirely from hemp and which ran on clean burning Hemp fuel.
The car being 30% lighter than steel cars therefore required less fuel.
Its light-weight bio-plastic body panels were many times stronger than steel and could not be dented with a sledge hammer.
“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?”
And this was Henry Ford speaking!
In 1942 US Government found that it could not take part in World War 2 without hemp for military clothing and equipment.
So they stop demonising hemp and launched a campaign to encourage and reward US farmers for growing hemp with a PR video titled “Hemp For Victory”.
In 1945 at the end of World War 2, the US Government went back to persecuting hemp and claims there never was a video called “Hemp For Victory”.
Yet we have found it with no difficulty and it is posted above for viewing.
When US soldiers returned from Europe they were ordered to put their hemp uniforms back on and were sent out to American farms to burn all the hemp crops.
In 1956 the US government elevated the classification of Cannabis to a schedule 1 narcotic, defining it as something that had no medicinal value and as harmful as Crack Cocaine and Heroin.
Teenagers found in possession of Cannabis (including hemp plants) faced life imprisonment.
In 1961 the US succeeded in having the United Nations pass a resolution (involving a massive lobbying effort), to have cannabis and hemp cultivation prohibited in 150 countries worldwide.
As a consequence most of the world’s food, fibre, fuel and medicine went from being made organically by farmers, to being produced chemically under the control of the pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries.
That lobbying influence on politicians has created massively biased and corrupt system that transfers wealth from low and middle income families to the top 1 percent elite who are seeking to impose a one-world government.
From 1961 it has taken only a few decades to plunge the world into a toxic ecological catastrophe that worsens each year with many governments sending their youth off to kill each other in wars over petrochemical oil.
In 1975 US Government funded research in Virginia that found cannabis reverses cancer.
The study was abruptly stopped, and a decision was made that future US research into the effects of cannabis on cancer would be prohibited.
People are only now beginning to realise that democratically elected governments are no longer representing the people – they are representing only the interests of global corporate entities.
So at the stroke of a pen, medical marijuana in the form of hemp could be liberated as a food and deliver food extracts that could assist in the treatment of a range of disorders including epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, pain, and deliver a cure for some forms of cancer.
Just imagine the cost savings on the PBS with that single decision, which is one reason that I would urge pharmacists to get behind a lobbying effort that would see hemp (CBD) products set free and provide a natural market from within pharmacy.
Why should pharmacists be personally made responsible for PBS funding when we could come up with an alternative that could walk the PBS away from the corporate giants.
It should also be known that CBD is available over the counter in 50 states of the US (some outlets not even being pharmacies).
In Australia hemp CBD should belong in Schedule 3 in concentrates sold within pharmacies, and unscheduled as food – no argument!
So what happens when a patient asks their doctor for neurological pain relief?
The doctor says that there is nothing that can be prescribed and all the evidence-based available drugs have been used on that patient with no result – only unwanted side-effects.
In desperation, the patient starts asking around and is eventually directed to a particular store located in a small rural town.
The patient follows instructions and when the destination is reached they go in to the store and ask the simple question:
“Do you sell medical marijuana?”
After a few simple questions have been asked and answered, the patient is directed to go down a small lane adjacent to the store until they see a doorway.
It is not signposted in any way and they enter to find themselves in some sort of a compounding dispensary – but one where no pharmacist can be found.
After some further polite conversation a suggestion is made that the patient’s condition may be best treated with some cold-pressed hemp oil, diluted to a particular strength with olive oil.
The cost for a 50ml dropper bottle is $30, and a postal re-order method is illustrated for when a repeat is needed, (or physically call back).
Enquiries made about the product determine that extraction and compounding processes are performed by an industrial chemist at another location and the manufacturing process is performed under normal compliance regulations.
The patient is advised to take five drops under the tongue three times a day.
After 24 hours the patient experiences lower and more bearable levels of pain.
After 48 hours, a number of prescribed analgesics have been scaled down and planned for discontinuance after one week.
Before leaving their supplier, the patient asks if the transaction is legal. The answer given was no!
Asked how they manage the police and the response was that now more is known about hemp and CBD the police no longer pursues the providers of medical marijuana, provided there are no open street transactions.
So the patient returns home having now become an unrepentant criminal – but at the moment, a pain-free one!
Now these transactions are being conducted all over Australia and the customers are starting to look like 65+ average senior citizens – because they are.
These are the same people coming to your pharmacy for all other medication needs.
It will not be long before they will ask you for medical marijuana and you need to be able to satisfy their needs legally.
Synthesised patented versions of CBD are not required because relief is obtained with the naturally extracted hemp oil
And at this point we speculate whether our pharmacy leaders are out there trying to get pharmacy involved in this already enormous underground market in a legitimate format.
It is already a $ multi-million market with none of that financial and health benefit flowing through pharmacy.
The regulating body for Australia and New Zealand says there is no need to regulate hemp as a food.
Government does not seem to be able to remove the blocks – just talk, promise and prevaricate.
For quality control and medical advice, hemp concentrates or low THC versions of marijuana should be immediately regulated as an S3 substance.
Higher concentrates of THC should be also immediately available on a doctor’s prescription.
Why this has not happened earlier cannot be blamed on insufficient evidence, because there is already a community dividend in countries where hemp CBD can be purchased freely.
That dividend translates to much lower prescription costs, a massive reduction in community violence and empty jail cells.
Instead of pursuing savings on our PBS mostly at community pharmacy cost, just get the regulators to stir.
Are any of our own leaders out there?