Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada for well over a decade. This past October, it was federally legalized, thus, making it recreationally legal. However, cannabis-infused edibles are currently illegal in Canada, whereas, they’re legal in many U.S. states.
Despite cannabis-infused edibles being illegal in Canada, they’re moving towards categorizing Cannabidiol (CBD) as a natural health food product alongside other vitamins. The progress Canada is making in this specific area is vastly different than that of the U.S. though, especially after the U.S. FDA recently made their stance very clear about the treatment of CBD-based products. Keep reading to learn more about the likelihood of legal CBD-infused health food products in Canada, America’s stance on treating CBD as a health food product, and potential changes that could occur in the future.
Current legality of CBD-infused Health Food products in Canada
Overall, CBD is viewed and treated as a natural medicinal and therapeutic substance by numerous Canadian consumers, physicians, and even lawmakers. Regardless of this support, not long ago, it was illegal for CBD to be in a food product or natural health food product in Canada. According to Health Canada, before cannabis was federally legalized this past October, products containing CBD were deemed illegal unless they were approved for medicinal purposes. Now that recreational cannabis is legal, products containing CBD are regulated like traditional cannabis products.
Currently, cannabis-infused edibles remain illegal in Canada. There have been many ongoing discussions about cannabis edibles with most of them focusing on recreational edibles rather than medicinal ones. Due to cannabis-infused edibles’ benefits and the work of Canadian activists, it’s likely that Canada will make cannabis-infused edibles legal in the future. The country also plans on eventually allowing different dispensaries to sell cannabis edibles.
In general, though, the Canadian Health Food Association is primarily focused on the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis edibles. Their focus is the same about CBD-infused health food products as well. This led to the Canadian Health Food Association recently reaching out to the government about lessening CBD restrictions, which is very different than the current situation in the U.S.
In America, various physicians, researchers, and lawmakers understand and support the usage of CBD for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. When it comes to cannabis-infused edibles though, they’re legal in certain U.S. states based on their designated cannabis program. This is one major difference between Canada and the U.S. However, an even larger difference is how CBD is viewed and treated in each North American country. For instance, Canada is moving in the direction of treating CBD products as health supplements and eventually allowing for the sale of CBD health food products. Whereas, the U.S. is far from moving in this direction.
In addition, cannabis remains a Schedule I illegal substance in the U.S. The plant is very complex, especially because it contains various cannabinoids including CBD, which is completely non-psychoactive, non-toxic, and non-addictive. Since CBD is beneficial for people’s health and well-being, numerous individuals believe it should be treated as a dietary supplement or vitamin. To this day, throughout the U.S., numerous head shops, health food stores, and independent health & wellness clinics sell various CBD products as dietary supplements. Unfortunately for the sellers, this is technically illegal.
Although CBD has been deemed as an extremely safe substance by the World Health Organization, the U.S. FDA has been cracking down on companies that market and advertise different CBD products. The FDA has also made it clear that all CBD products aren’t included in the category of legal U.S. dietary supplements. Then, various warning letters sent out from the FDA to companies that market CBD as dietary supplements spoke volumes about the FDA’s stance on CBD. To provide some clarity about CBD being treated as a dietary supplement in the U.S., the FDA expressed that CBD products aren’t included in the category or definition of dietary supplements because CBD is the main topic of various public clinical investigations.
Now, let’s transition back to Canada and their growing efforts in this area. Fortunately, different provinces, states, and entire countries are starting to accept the medicinal value of CBD-infused products, especially Canada, which has led to regulations that align with the acceptance of CBD.
Over the years, Health Canada has held conversations about permitting natural health products and health food products to contain CBD. For this to become a reality though, natural health products sold in Canada must meet these requirements:
- safe to consume as over-the-counter products; and
- don’t require individuals to have a prescription before purchasing them.
If CBD ends up being regulated as a natural health food product, the cannabinoid would have to undergo strict guidelines and testing. Additionally, before a natural health product is approved, it must fulfill these criteria: accurate information and evidence about its effectiveness, safety, quality, and reasons for usage. According to Adam Gibson, other necessary steps would consist of the following:
“Then, after it is approved, you also have monitoring for adverse drug reactions, there are requirements to report that, and that gets put into a common system. So, you can monitor for drug-drug interactions, and develop that really robust system around health products.”
Health Canada also explained that the verdict of how a drug is classified as a prescription or not is assessed by its potential risks. The organization went on to mention that they need additional information about the cannabinoids’ safety and efficacy to determine dosage limits and other thresholds. The intention of this would be to distinguish which products are prescriptions and which ones aren’t.
Moreover, Brightfield Group conducted a recent report, which stated that the CBD market is expected to surpass the cannabis market. Specifically, the CBD market will likely reach $22 billion USD by 2022. The demand for CBD-based products is huge, and it’ll only increase from here. Overall, the Canadian natural health industry is ready to get more involved with CBD. They’re aware of the growing demand for products containing this cannabinoid and CBD’s plethora of medicinal, therapeutic, and nutritional benefits.
So far, it has been projected that CBD-infused health food products and other natural health products will be available at many Canadian establishments including the shelves of various grocery stores and pharmacies. Thus, other businesses besides strictly regulated dispensaries will eventually get a piece of the Cannabidiol success pie.
Likelihood of the legal sale of CBD-infused health food products
As a result of CBD’s array of benefits, Health Canada has experienced pressure to change the classification of it. A lot of this pressure came from the Canadian Health Food Association, in particular. If Health Canada approves of CBD-infused health food products, Cannabidiol would be placed in the same category as Vitamin D, echinacea, and other health supplements.
Additionally, Trina Fraser, an Ottawa Canada-based lawyer believes that CBD-infused health food products will be sold at Canadian drug stores and pharmacies in the years to come. Once CBD-infused health food products are approved, the Canadian CBD market will significantly boom. Not only will pharmacies receive a green light to sell CBD-infused natural health products, but also drug stores, clinics, and possibly convenience stores.
Overall, CBD-infused health food products would need to gain pre-market approval from Health Canada first. If they do gain approval, it’s likely that many Canadian grocery stories, pharmacies, clinics, and drug stores will be able to legal sell these kinds of CBD-based food products. Then, Cannabidiol will be treated the same as vitamins, echinacea, and other health supplements.
From here, it’s possible that other countries like America will follow suit and regulate CBD as another natural health food product. But first, the U.S. FDA would have to move cannabis and CBD out of its Schedule I classification and reduce restrictions on the cannabinoid. Stay tuned to find out when Health Canada approves of the legal sale of CBD-infused health food products and the progress America may make in the future!