Access to recreational cannabis should not be more liberal than access to cannabidiol (CBD) containing cannabis products that can improve the health of Canadians.
We believe that the decision to place CBD on the prescription drug list has introduced unintended consequences for Canadians seeking benefits from CBD, as well as the natural health industry interested in providing Canadians with products that support their health. The present regulatory regime for CBD products is stifling innovation, economic development and job creation in our sector while failing to dispel the illicit online market for CBD health products.
CBD is a natural substance that Canadians want access to for health and wellness purposes. Canadians want the same direct access to CBD health products as they have for recreational products. CBD is safe, has no known harmful side effects, is not addictive, and has no intoxicating effects like its well-known counterpart THC.
Since the legalization of cannabis, CHFA has advocated for Health Canada to create a pathway for CBD to be legally sold in natural health products (NHPs). We believe CBD is a NHP, not a recreational drug, and NHP businesses should have the opportunity to provide Canadians with safe and regulated CBD-containing health products, brought to market through the Natural Health Products Regulations.
Health Canada's Consultation
On June 19, 2019, Health Canada launched a consultation on a potential regulatory pathway that would bring cannabis health products (or “CHPs”), including CBD health products, to the Canadian marketplace. This proposal would not allow CBD to be included in NHPs, and would not allow health food stores to sell CBD.
In 2020, Health Canada released a Summary Report following the consultation, indicating that their next step was to form a scientific advisory committee to seek external scientific advice that will support consideration of appropriate safety, efficacy and quality standards for health products containing cannabis that would be safe for use without practitioner oversight. In the meantime, analysis will continue as further consultation and scientific advice is sought from external experts. Information gathered will help inform a potential path forward for these products.
Cannabis Act - 3-Year Review
When the Cannabis Act came into force, it came with a specific requirement for a review of the Act within three years of coming into force. The goal of the review will be to assess the impact of legalization on public health, the consumption habits amongst Canadian youth, the impact on Indigenous persons and their communities, and the impact of allowing cultivation of cannabis in a dwelling-house.
No more than 18 months following the start of the review, the Minister of Health will be expected to present a report on the review, including any relevant recommendations or findings, before Parliament.