- Medical cannabis is legal in Australia, but it remains illegal for recreational use.
- Even those seeking cannabis for medical use have a hard time getting it.
- Thankfully, there are now some alternative cannabinoids.
- CBD can be extracted from citrus and lichen, and PET, a cannabinoid extremely similar to THC, can be extracted from liverworts found in Australia.
- These cannabis-alternatives have the same effects as their cannabis-based counterparts, if not better.
- They are also legal, because their sources are legal.
- They can be purchased online, over the counter, and without prescriptions.
Perrottetinene, Citrus CBD, and Lichen CBD
Australia legalised cannabis for medical use in 2016. However, patients have to jump over a number of bureaucratic hurdles to obtain the drug. Getting your cannabis medication requires prescriptions, which goes through a thorough, slow vetting process by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Waiting months for your prescription and cannabis medication isn’t uncommon.
As for recreational cannabis, Australians have no legal way of getting that. Perhaps in a couple of years or more, if at all, recreational cannabis might become legal. But for now, no such luck.
There’s no need to wait anymore, though -- some very promising non-cannabis-based cannabinoids have been discovered, and their sources are legal, which means they, too, are legal. Perrottetinene, citrus CBD, and lichen CBD are today’s cannabis rivals.
- Perrottetinene (PET)
Perrottetinene (PET) is a psychoactive cannabinoid found in the moss-like liverwort Radula plant. The liverwort Radula plant is native to Tasmania here in Australia, as well as neighbouring New Zealand. PET is similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana that recreational users crave for that “high” feeling. The similarities aren’t only in the psychoactive effects, but also in the molecular structure and medicinal properties. In fact, scientists and researchers believe PET may be more medically beneficial than THC, because it carries anti-inflammatory properties and has bigger medical effects.
- Citrus CBD
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, sought after mostly for its medicinal effects. The cannabinoid has now been extracted from citrus by-products such as orange peels, along with an invasive evergreen species native to South Asia. Citrus CBD is preferable to cannabis-based CBD for a few reasons. First, while cannabis-based CBD contains small amounts of THC, citrus CBD is 100% THC-free, a plus for medical users who generally don’t like the psychoactive effects THC. Second, while cannabis-based CBD products usually vary in CBD content, citrus CBD is consistent, with at least 99.7% CBD. Finally, citrus CBD is legal, meaning it can be purchased over the counter, without a prescription.
- Lichen CBD
Lichen CBD is similar to citrus CBD, except for its source. This CBD is extracted from lichen, a fungus/algae/cyanobacteria combination that you’ve probably seen a few times, growing on trees or walls in damp, shaded areas. Lichen CBD has the same medicinal effects as cannabis-based CBD, and is preferable for the same reasons as citrus CBD -- THC-free, consistently high amounts of CBD, and it is legal.
What does the science say about the efficacy of these alternatives to Cannabis?
Citrus and lichen CBD are both identical to cannabis-based CBD. Thus, the efficacy of CBD applies, in general. This means that citrus and lichen CBD can serve as treatments for the same medical conditions as cannabis-based CBD, such as epileptic seizures, inflammation, and even cancer.
CBD has been proven to be much more effective than OTC and prescription products most of the time.
Scientists say PET is extremely similar to THC. The liverwort cannabinoid may be even better than THC when it comes to its medicinal properties. While THC is highly psychoactive, liverwort’s PET contents are quite small, and so are the psychoactive effects. This is a plus for patients in need of treatment without intoxicating side effects.
THC has been found to increase the levels of prostglandins in the brain, causing inflammation. PET, on the other hand, does the opposite, serving as an anti-inflammatory that makes it a better cannabinoid than THC.
PET has also been found to produce the same four key effects as THC when bound to CB1 receptors in the body: decreases sensitivity to pain, reduces movement, reduces body temperature, as well as muscle rigidity. The best part, though, is that PET has a bigger effect in this regard.
How much do these cannabis alternatives cost?
Liverwort, citrus CBD, and lichen CBD can all be purchased online. Some products containing these substances can be bought in stores, as edibles such as chocolates with lichen CBD, dried liverwort Radula sold as incense and liquid extracts, and citrus CBD pills and patches.
In general, alternative CBD products cost around a third (or less) of cannabis-based CBD medications. For example, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Epidolex, the only federally legalised cannabis-based medication. Annual dosage of Epidolex costs a whopping US$32,000. That’s a ridiculous US$96 per day.
A patch of citrus CBD, on the other hand, costs around $16, and bottle of liverwort Radula extract costs around $24.
Final words -- Will these legal alternative cannabinoids take off in Australia?
Despite cannabis being legal for medical use in Australia, patients have a hard time getting their hands on cannabis medications. As for recreational users, the country is still far away from legalising the drug for that purpose. Liverwort PET, citrus CBD, and lichen CBD, are legal cannabinoids that are very similar to cannabis-based THC and CBD. For Australians having difficulty obtaining cannabis-based products, these alternatives should certainly be looked at. While citrus and lichen CBD are great for medical users, liverwort PET is great for medical users as well as recreational users who crave that THC psychoactive effect.
As these alternative cannabinoids catch on, there might eventually be some regulation by the Australian government. For now, though, these products are fully legal and can be purchased online or over the counter, without a prescription.