A brown-tinted glass bottle with an eye dropper sitting on a marijuana leaf.

The effects of cannabis oil on marijuana users and its potential for treating addiction will be the subject of a 12-week study in the Victoria region.

Core items:

  • The TGA has allowed the over-the-counter sale of low-dose CBD preparations in Australian pharmacies
  • Researchers in Shepparton hope to find out if the oil could help dissuade people from drugs
  • There is only one addiction medicine specialist in regional Victoria

Researchers from the Goulburn Valley Alcohol and Drug Service are looking for local volunteers to take part in the study, which will explore the potential benefits of cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical found in the cannabis plant.

CBD can make people sleepy and affect the brain’s electrical signals, but unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is also found in cannabis, it won’t get people high.

“It means it’s safe to drive and doesn’t interfere with your ability to use machines and things like that,” said Shepparton-based professor and study leader Edward Ogden.

Research is still being done into how CBD can be used medicinally, but it is believed to help with things like anxiety and chronic pain.

A specific cannabis drug was developed in the USA to treat childhood epilepsy syndromes.

Medicinal cannabis is a growing industry in Australia, with farms like this one in Toowoomba supplying markets both domestically and internationally.(Supplied: Australian Natural Therapeutics Group)

In 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) allowed low-dose CBD supplements to be sold over-the-counter in Australian pharmacies.

But while products are common elsewhere, no product containing CBD has yet been approved by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

dr Ogden thought now was a good time to find out more about what CBD can do.

“We have a number of people who contact the Goulburn Valley service for help with cannabis use,” he said.

“So I was really interested to know if the types of CBD doses that might be available over the counter in the near future would be helpful.”

A man with glasses is smiling in front of a bookshelf. Professor Edward Ogden is a specialist in addiction medicine.(delivered)

“People take drugs for a reason”

dr Ogden said marijuana used to contain about two or three percent THC, but that’s changed.

“The kind of material that’s available now, especially some of the genetically selected, hydroponically grown materials, can contain up to 20% or even higher percentage of THC, so it’s much more potent,” he said.

“People who use the stronger strains of marijuana may have a lot more trouble quitting.”

This argument has been used by advocates for legalizing marijuana, saying that more regulation would allow people to know the strength of what they are using.

dr Ogden said that some people who have attempted to cut down on marijuana have reported trouble sleeping and mood swings.

He hoped that CBD oil could be used to better manage these symptoms.

“People take drugs for a reason,” said Dr. ogden

“I mean, the drugs do something for them — at least when they start — and they can become physically or psychologically dependent on the substance, whatever it is.

“That’s really the key to what you’re doing in addiction medicine … seeing what the substance is doing for that person.

“If you just take the substance away — whatever it is — they may feel worse because the reason they started using in the first place is still there.”

Two large marijuana buds sitting in a person's hand. People who try to limit marijuana have pointed to trouble sleeping and mood swings.(delivered)

Trials of CBD oil are already underway, with about half of the slots filled so far and a lot of interest in the remaining slots.

After an intake interview and testing, participants receive capsules from a compounding pharmacy – either inert oil, a low dose of CBD, or a high dose of CBD.

They then go to church once a month to answer a few questions.

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