Consumers are being warned against buying medicinal cannabis on the black market, with the products potentially posing dangerous risks to health.
Australia’s health regulator warned consumers on Monday that products bought on the internet may be unsafe, of poor quality or contain a different dose to what the label claims.
While fake products mimic authentic goods, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said they could
The TGA said consumers should beware of buying medicine online, even though it might seem like a simple and affordable option.
“Products bought over the internet may be a serious risk to your health and a waste of money,” the TGA said on Monday.
“Products sold on the black market, especially from online sellers that do not request a doctor’s prescription, are unlikely to achieve the desired results and can be very dangerous.
“Using fake products can put you at serious risk of unpredictable or severe adverse reactions.”
Medicinal cannabis products generally contain CBD and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive substance in cannabis.
Australians can legally access medicinal cannabis if a registered doctor gives them a prescription, and the patient fills the prescription at a pharmacy.
But aside from a small number of prescription-only products, medicinal cannabis products are not approved medicines in Australia, meaning they have not been assessed for safety, quality or effectiveness.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found CBD products were commonly labelled with an inaccurate dose, and CBD concentration varied across batches of the same product purchased at different times.
The study also found it was impossible to confirm if the level of THC stated on the label was correct and that the product was uncontaminated without independent expert testing.
The TGA said evidence about the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis on different medical conditions was limited.
Little is also known about the most suitable doses of individual cannabis products.
Advertising medicinal cannabis products to consumers in Australia is also illegal and doing so can lead to heavy fines and/or jail.
“Any advertising that claims a medicinal cannabis product can treat cancer, mental illness, epilepsy or any other serious condition is likely to be breaking the law, even if the advertiser believes there is evidence to support the claim. These rules protect vulnerable consumers,” the TGA said.
In December, a man was given four fines totalling $10,656 for alleged unlawful advertising of cannabidiol (CBD).