is cbd legal in canadaDecember 15, 2021
While Clarke says CBD may help with pain treatments, he worries that too many Canadians are getting health advice from websites or salespeople, not medical professionals who can alert patients to potential drug interactions.
Silcox said she would like to see pet products containing CBD regulated by Health Canada. She also wants vets to have the power to authorize CBD to pet owners.
Unexpected THC can cause sedation, anxiety or even paranoia. That's what happened to a New Brunswick woman in 2019 after she unknowingly purchased an unlicensed CBD product to help with her anxiety.
For example, in Ontario, authorized CBD products can only be legally purchased online at the Ontario Cannabis Store, from authorized licensed dispensaries or with a medical note from authorized stores such as Shoppers Drug Mart. In British Columbia, BC Cannabis Store is the only legal place to buy CBD online.
The claim from the sales person to the undercover Marketplace crew seemed straightforward enough: a CBD-infused balm will "100 per cent" help with back pain and "in 15 minutes it will feel like relief." But not only is that promise a complete exaggeration, both that claim and the product are illegal.
What's in black market CBD?
"These products can be acquired by anyone in Canada with an internet connection and a credit card," Busse said. "But you can't actually test what all these people are using, which seems very counterintuitive."
CBD products sold on the black market don't undergo the same rigorous standards of testing that licensed CBD products go through.
"She probably wouldn't be here if we hadn't seen results," said the Whitby, Ont., resident, who says she's glad she "had an open mind" about trying CBD for her dog.
The results, Golding says, are more than her family ever dreamed. Six months after complications from surgery left Georgia in chronic pain and unable to use her hind legs, Georgia is now hobbling around happily, a new lease on life that Golding says is thanks to CBD.
That didn't stop a salesperson at Calyx Wellness, another unlicensed CBD store in Toronto, from making bold claims about CBD: "From what I've heard, it depends on your situation, but it'll help with anything," she told the undercover Marketplace crew.
While it is illegal to test black market CBD products in Canada, Marketplace did find one group of veterinary researchers in Saskatchewan and Ontario who tested a small sample of illicit Canadian CBD products marketed for pets. The study found the CBD levels were often mislabelled; some of the CBD potencies were either "dramatically lower than the stated cannabinoid content, or simply undetectable." One CBD pet product had almost no CBD but high levels of undisclosed THC. Contaminants and pesticides were also found.
Testing may be tricky in Canada, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regularly tests CBD products. Busse says that removing CBD as a controlled substance in the U.S. has made it easier for U.S. researchers to study, evaluate and to test the products on the market.
So when palliative care veterinarian Dr. Sarah Silcox was called to help Robyn Golding find an end-of-life treatment for Golding's dog, Georgia, Silcox could only offer "guidance" and dosage help. Silcox recommended Golding try CBD, and suggested human CBD from a legal dispensary on the nine-year-old Shiloh Shepherd.
Health Canada says it is reviewing how Canadians use cannabis. The agency held public consultations in 2019, and in November 2020 launched the Science Advisory Committee for Health Products Containing Cannabis. A review of the current legislation is also in the works, but a report isn't expected until about 2023.
That means, like other cannabis products, only government-licensed retailers are allowed to sell CBD products and there are strict rules and regulations around who is allowed to grow, process and distribute CBD products .
The missing science around CBD.
Health Canada did not say whether or not it will be declassifying CBD as a controlled substance.
"It's kind of like a superpower almost."
In fact, the CBC lawyers advising on this story said that Marketplace could not legally test black market products because it would mean breaking laws that police controlled substances. It's a hurdle tripping up many Canadian researchers — and it means no one really knows what is in the illicit CBD being sold.
At Sensitiva, the salesperson pitched us on the benefits of topical CBD products: "CBD helps with inflammation in your body and that can be something topical like skin rashes, psoriasis, acne, wrinkles, sun damage, etc., which is why most of our products are topical."
WATCH | Hidden cameras show employees discussing unproven CBD claims:
WATCH | The full Marketplace investigation:
Silcox, who is also president of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine, says undisclosed THC is a big concern as animals can end up in the emergency room with adverse effects from THC ingestion and intoxication.
'We've got very little evidence'
In Canada, any CBD products marketed for pets are illegal and veterinarians are prevented from prescribing it.
It is also illegal to make any health or cosmetic claims about CBD products in Canada. To make a health claim, the product requires approval as a prescription drug under the Food and Drugs Act. No CBD products in Canada have that approval.
"It's a Wild West, it's buyer beware. There's hundreds of these websites making all kinds of claims from A to Z," Busse said. "And it's left to the consumer to somehow sort all this out."
Marketplace visited two unlicensed stores specializing in CBD in downtown Toronto, and viewed dozens of black market websites selling illegal CBD. We showed Busse clips of Marketplace 's hidden camera investigation.
Busse says because CBD is regulated as a controlled substance, which puts it in the same legal category as drugs like fentanyl, he and other researchers have run into the same legal hurdles as the CBC in their attempts to test black market CBD products.
CBD metabolizes in the liver, and both Clarke and Busse want to see more research done on how CBD can interact with medications like blood thinners , antidepressants, opioids and benzodiazepines, as well as anti-seizure and chemotherapy drugs.
Experts say because of widespread availability in the U.S., Canadians may not realize that the CBD products that have sprung up at their local farmer's market, CBD boutique store, unlicensed websites or even pet stores are all illegal.
The lack of strong scientific evidence around CBD hasn't stopped the black market from offering everything from tinctures, oils, creams and chocolate to shampoo, face masks and personal lubricants, with claims CBD can help with everything from writer's cramp to "halting the duplication of cancerous cells."
The active ingredient in marijuana is THC. Most THC in the cannabis plant is a specific isomer called delta 9 THC.
At the beginning of the 19th century, hemp cultivation was considered “the source of wealth to settlers.” The government distributed hemp seeds to farmers in hopes of stimulating the economy for its many potential uses.
Honest Botanicals is based out of Vancouver where they have access to some of the best hemp in Canada, all year round. They carry all the essentials — topicals, oils, capsules, gummies, and a few other categories. Pricing remains competitive with the Canadian market and their products meet all the expectations for testing and potency.
In the period between 1930 – 1940, cannabis convictions increased. Through the following years, cannabis was more and more equated with marijuana, and its psychoactive effects, which ultimately affected hemp’s legal status.
Do not cross any borders with CBD products.
Tips for Buying CBD in Canada.
The Cannabis Act includes several regulations on the cannabis plant — both marijuana and hemp .
This process makes the CBD industry much more reliable than in places like the US — but it also drives up the price of CBD oil and severely limits the number of companies that offer their products in Canada.
Marijuana became popular in Canada in the 60s with the rise of the counterculture. Ten years later, advocates made efforts to legalize marijuana.
30 grams is pretty generous. This works out to just over an ounce, which is plenty for most cannabis users in a given day, but not so much that it’s even worth selling on the black market.
It’s illegal to transport any cannabis products across the US-Canada border. This is true even in cases where the border-state considers CBD completely legal. Even though you’re traveling from Canada to a legal-US state, the border is the domain of the federal government — where Cannabis is considered a Schedule I drug.
However, along with the openness comes a lot of regulation. Canada treats cannabis products a lot like alcohol — which means there are strict rules regulating who can make and sell CBD products.
The best place to shop for Canadian CBD products is through a Canadian CBD marketplace.
Miss Envy is another Vancouver-based company (seems to be a bit of a pattern here) with some top-notch cannabinoid products — not limited to just CBD.
The Canadian government employed strict penalties if users don’t abide by these rules. Possession over the 30 gram limit could lead to 5 years in prison .
3. Island Therapeutics.
In Canada, delta 8 THC is entirely legal for both recreational and medical purposes. All marijuana-derived products are considered legal here, including the delta 8 isomer.
In 1923, cannabis was added on the Confidential Restricted List under the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill — 14 years before the United States prohibited cannabis.
For consumers, it’s easy to order CBD oils if you live in Canada. The hard part is for the people and companies selling CBD oil.
In 1998, the Canadian government allowed cultivation and processing of industrial hemp under very restrictive rules.
Europe is also problematic for transporting CBD products. While I’ve heard many stories of people doing this without any issues — some countries strictly ban any cannabis products which could land you in some serious trouble if caught.
Since October 2018, cannabis — both hemp and marijuana are legal for both medical and recreational use.
Best CBD Vendors in Canada.
The best place to find CBD products approved for the Canadian market is at CBD Oil Canada.
Delta 8 THC actually has a different high than the standard delta 9 isomer. It’s much more chilled-out and relaxing. People who find regular THC products too “anxiety-inducing” will likely prefer the effects of delta 8.
Canada has very strict regulations about who can sell cannabis products. Everything from the storage, labeling, advertising, and pricing are tightly controlled by the Canadian government.
Historians believe that one of the main reasons for cannabis prohibition was a paragraph from the book, The Black Candle . The author, Emily Murphy — the first female magistrate in Canada — described cannabis as an initiator of homicidal tendencies in users.
Most of the CBD brands sold in Canada are strictly based out of Canada. You’ll be hard-pressed to find American CBD companies that ship that far North. You’re more likely to find a European company that ship CBD oils to Canada, but the shipping rates can be hard to justify.
Canada is a cannabis enthusiast’s dream. The country’s laws are friendly towards the cannabis plant — which means buying both hemp and marijuana products easy to buy online and in-store.
In 2003 and 2004, two bills on the decriminalization of recreational marijuana failed. In 2006, penalties increased, and the maximum sentence on cannabis production doubled from 7 to 14 years.