Although higher dosage CBD oil still requires a prescription, from February 1st of 2021 the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved the over the counter sale of low dose CBD oil without a prescription in Australia. CBD's (and medicinal cannabis overall) popularity as a treatment for various ailments has increased exponentially over the past few years, and along with it confusion regarding how CBD products actually work. Companies world wide have developed a whole range of CBD oil products, so we've broken down the different types of CBD oil, their ingredients and how they can be used medically.

What is CBD oil?

But first, the basics. CBD is the abbreviated form of the chemical compound Cannabidiol which is derived from the cannabis plant (also referred to as marijuana). CBD is one of two of the main chemical compounds found in cannabis, with the other being Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the component responsible for delivering the 'high' commonly associated with cannabis use. If you'd like to know more about both CBD and THC, check out our article on the difference between CBD and THC.

Types of CBD oil

  • Raw CBD oil: A full spectrum oil that is made without introducing heat or solvents during the extraction process. Most of the cannabis plant is used in the creation of raw CBD which means the oil retains all cannabinoids (including THC), terpenes (responsible for the cannabis scent) and pigments. It is usually thicker and darker in colour, and in Australia can only be sold to patients by an authorised prescriber.
  • CBD isolate: An oil that only contains the CBD component. All other terpenes, cannabinoids and fatty acids are not included.
  • Full spectrum CBD oil: Similar to raw CBD oil, full spectrum CBD oil retains all cannabinoids, terpenes and fatty acids. Despite containing THC, full spectrum CBD oil does not produce a high but will likely show up in a drug test. Use of full spectrum oil also results in the entourage effect. Some studies suggest that the entourage effect, where all the cannabis compounds work together, is more effective than taking a CBD isolate product depending on the medical condition or symptom being treated.
  • Broad spectrum CBD oil: sits in between CBD isolate and full spectrum. Broad spectrum CBD oil contains all of cannabis' cannabinoids and chemical compounds except for THC. Therefore, some of the entourage effect will still happen and will likely not show up on a drug test as they usually only test for THC.*

*Note: some drug tests DO test for CBD, therefore if you're interested in using medicinal cannabis (including CBD only products) it's best to consult your workplace's HR department or speak to a workplace superior prior to commencing treatment.

How is CBD oil used medicinally?

Cannabis has been used for its medical properties for thousands of years, and recent studies have shown that CBD specifically has anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are beneficial for reliving pain.

CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which effects bodily functions such as sleep, appetite, pain and the immune response. As a result, CBD oil can be used in the treatment of various ailments and conditions. Some of the medical conditions and symptoms that CBD oil can help with are:

  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Epilepsy

View the full list of conditions treated with medical marijuana here.

Although most commonly sold and administered in oil form, CBD oil can also be used in the form of bath soaks, dietary supplements, as well as food and drink.

Is CBD oil legal in Australia?

In short, yes. All medicinal cannabis products are legal in Australia provided that they adhere to the Therapeutic Goods Administration's guidelines as well as state-specific laws. However, that doesn't mean that you can pop down to your local pharmacy and pick up a THC-rich product.

Cannabis (with the exception of low-dosage CBD oil) is currently classified as a schedule 8, schedule 4 or schedule 3 drug in Australia, which means accessing higher dosage CBD and THC products requires specialised approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration's special access scheme (SAS). What this means is that in order to legally purchase medicinal cannabis, patients will need a prescription from an authorised prescriber - a medical practitioner who is specially trained in plant-based medicines.

Purchasing cannabis without SAS approval in Australia is illegal and could potentially result in fines or jail time, even if purchased for medical purposes. Accessing cannabis legally also ensures patients are receiving high quality products that adhere to strict quality control measures. Cannabis distributed by Australian pharmacies also provide patients with accurate dosage guidelines, allowing doctors and patients to make informed decisions regarding the efficacy of the medicinal cannabis treatment.

If you're interested in a prescription for a higher dosage CBD oil or any other medicinal cannabis product, please contact one of our SAS Accredited doctors. Unsure if you qualify? Take our eligibility test.

Does CBD oil have any side effects?

CBD is generally considered safe, and has never been linked to an overdose or death, however, there are side effects that should be considered before using CBD oil for medicinal purposes. Some of the potential side effects of CBD oil include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Fluctuations in appetite and weight
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in alertness

CBD oil can also interact negatively with other medications, so it's important that you consult your doctor before you start using CBD oil.


CBD oil has become an attractive option for people who are looking for an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical medicines. CBD oil is quickly becoming a popular treatment for chronic pain among other conditions, and it's important that people understand exactly what it is, how it works and what type works for them. If you have any questions about medicinal cannabis, please consult our FAQs or speak to one of our doctors.