Health Canada Report Paves Legal Pathway For CBD

Health Canada recently released a long-awaited report which experts say provides a regulatory avenue to expand the country’s cannabidiol (CBD) market.

CBD, the chemical cousin of Delta-9 THC, is a hemp-derived ingredient that can be made into products in a variety of types and formats such as oils, gummies, capsules, or topicals. It cannot produce a high level of THC and is usually marketed to relieve pain and anxiety, as well as insomnia.

The recommendation stalks from a 2019 request from Health Canada seeking comments on the potential market for over-the-counter health products containing cannabis.

Canadians can currently buy CBD products through a licensed cannabis retailer or with a doctor’s prescription, although the report written by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Cannabis-Containing Health Products, an independent body, puts the bases for buying them over the counter at common local retailers. .

The absence of a regulated CBD regime in Canada has created confusion for consumers, fueling an illicit market supplying unauthorized CBD products. Canadians have difficulty finding licensed dispensaries due to the regulatory restrictions hemp faces under the Cannabis Act.

Retailers also have strict limits on how they can market these products. CBD and other hemp derivatives are subject to the same restrictions as THC-oriented products, “which makes it almost impossible to build a brand identity,” said Omar Khan, senior vice president of public and corporate affairs at High Tide Inc.

“It’s a bit of an onerous process for someone who is not a frequent user of cannabis,” he said. “Opening it up and allowing these products to be sold in broader retail environments I think – and we believe – will help translate what is a existing demand.”

The lack of research has stifled the committee’s ability to draw conclusions about the guidelines. The report said committee members agreed that “implementing a less complex regulatory framework and facilitating access to quality products to conduct studies would support the research community.”

Studying CBD in Canada currently has strict clinical trial standards and requires research and development licenses under the country’s Cannabis Act.

Sean Karl, a Vancouver-based supply chain consultant specializing in cannabis logistics, said the recognition of better ways to study CBD is “really encouraging.”

“We’re excited about the potential start of a major clinical trial that we had to put on hold because the sponsoring institution’s legal department won’t touch it,” he said.

CBD is safe

Although the advisory committee concluded that CBD is “safe and tolerable for short-term use (a maximum of 30 days) at doses from 20 milligrams per day up to a maximum dose of 200 mg/day “, the report recommended that they go their separate ways. to measure CBD products based on their form and application.

“I think the dosage guidelines reflect a fairly cautious deployment of the precautionary principle,” said George Smitherman, president of the Cannabis Council of Canada.

As stakeholders and advocates begin to provide input on the way forward, industry interests reflect a range of national and regional groups with varying priorities, often based on the products they produce and their positions in the supply chain of supply

Cory Pala, Director of Investor Relations at CBD-maker Charlotte’s Web (OTC: CWBHF) said the US-based company is “particularly excited” about the recommendation.

Charlotte’s Web can’t export its products to Canada under current law “which is kind of ironic” considering it’s federally legal in both countries, she said, so she’s partnered with growers in the country The new recommendation presents a juncture for the company.

“In the United States, we have 2,500 different competitors that have similar products,” Pala said. “But in Canada, we have maybe half a dozen, if that. And so it’s really, really attractive to us as a market opportunity. That’s big for multiple reasons.”

Smitherman wonders how Canada’s local dispensaries will feel about competing with general retailers.

“I think there will be an articulation of a voice from the currently regulated landscape saying, hey, this was a big part of my business,” he said. “It may not be the most important part of my business, but my business is difficult, so what are you going to do to make sure that as this regulatory model evolves, the Canadian dispensary experience can evolve alongside it so that the dispensary owners be” faced with the loss of business in the CBD vertical.”

These discussions will take place during stakeholder sessions in the coming months.

Despite the big task ahead, those with a stake in the process are excited, if cautious, about the future. Health Canada still has to decide on the regulations and figure out if it really wants to move in this direction before seeking approval from the Canadian government.

“Patience is the call of the day in this case,” Khan said.

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