(Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series on retailing trends in the hemp industry. To read the previous installment, click here.)
Canada’s federal health regulator is reviewing the potential market for cannabis health products that would not require physician oversight, a review that attracted strong interest from hemp and marijuana producers interested in the potential new category.
Any new regulations would fill a gap in the current Canadian market. Right now, Canada does not provide a legal pathway to market for a cannabis product that makes a health claim and could be sold without doctor authorization.
Current rules prohibit the use of cannabis, either marijuana or hemp, in natural health products and veterinary health products.
Under the proposed new rules, provinces and territories would have the ability to authorize where cannabis health products could be sold, potentially including at pharmacies, veterinary clinics and pet stores.
Health Canada told Hemp Industry Daily it received 1,104 submissions through an online questionnaire, and roughly 60 submissions via email. The consultation period ended last summer.
However, the submissions will not be made public “to respect the privacy of participants in the consultation,” spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau said.
Health Canada said it intends to publish a summary of the feedback it received during the consultation. But the federal health department said it does not know when that will happen exactly.
“The results of this preliminary consultation will help Health Canada to better understand the potential market for these products and to inform the development of a potential regulatory pathway,” Jarbeau said.
Any new regulatory pathway could open up a large market for cannabis health products, including CBD.
After publishing the feedback summary, Health Canada will establish an external scientific advisory committee.
The committee will be tasked with seeking advice on the appropriate level of evidence necessary to prove the safety and efficacy of cannabis health products.
“Following the publication of the summary report and the establishment of the advisory committee, the department will analyze available findings to determine a path forward,” Jarbeau said.
Trina Fraser, a business lawyer at Ontario-based Brazeau Seller Law and an adviser to cannabis companies, said the upcoming report and advisory committee suggest businesses are looking at a multiyear process to liberalize CBD regulations.
Of particular to industry, Fraser said she will be looking for answers to:
- How cannabis health products are defined.
- Whether more trace amounts of THC will be permitted.
- How the distribution and sales model looks.
Fraser is also looking for clarity on what health claims could be allowed, and how businesses are going to have to prove them to Health Canada.
“I don’t see any way that we couldn’t be looking at a multiyear horizon for these products,” she said.
“We have to create a more sensible way to make, distribute and sell CBD products in this country. They lumped them together in this big umbrella category of cannabis for the purposes of legalization. Now we’re beyond that. It’s time to finesse the system.”
Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].