As of October 2019, CBD (cannabidiol) oil with a THC level > 3% continues to require a prescription, however laws are subject to change and alternatives continue to be available (details below).
The regulation of cannabis and all its derivatives in Canada continues to be governed by the Cannabis Act which set forth regulations for the production, sale and distribution of cannabis since 2018.
Of particular concern is the legality of CBD oil. Known to be helpful for a variety of ailments, its popularity has increased substantially around the world due to its therapeutic use in a variety of conditions. Some of the well-known positive effects relate to its relaxing effect on the brain which in turn affects the nervous system and eases pain, anxiety and promotes healthy sleep.
Since CBD is one of the chemical substances in the highly regulated/prohibited cannabis plant, there has been a great deal of confusion regarding the legalities and possible prescription requirements for the purchase of CBD oil in Canada.
Under the Cannabis Act, strict regulations on products containing CBD (including CBD oil) continue to be enforced. Sale of these products is legal when they are sold under compliance with the regulations governing possession, production, distribution & sale through licensed producers and distributors.
Each province has its own age limits and licensing agency. The regulatory body in Ontario, for example, is the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario which has been given the right to regulate the sale of marijuana in private stores in this province.
Prior to all this, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) came into effect in 2016 recognizing the rights of individuals to produce medical cannabis products including oils, tinctures, edibles and plant flowers with a valid authorization (prescription) from their healthcare practitioner.
Cannabis Act Amendment (2019)
The Cannabis Act was recently amended on October 17, 2019, to allow growth in the market that was hindered as a result of heavy legal barriers and government restrictions.
The main changes involve regulatory laws regarding provincial approval of operating licenses for sale of edible and topical products containing cannabis.
The amendment now allows licensed producers to submit edible and topical products to Health Canada which are then subject to a 60-to-90-day approval and procurement process.
Rules Governing CBD Oil & Prescriptions
The current rules governing the requirement of a prescription for CBD oil are as follows:
- CBD oil with a THC level > 3% is legal with a prescription from a licensed supplier or dispensary
- CBD oil with a THC level < 0.3% is legal in Canada without a prescription, for personal use only
CBD oil is available for sale in Canada with or without a prescription from either provincially or territorially-authorized cannabis retailers or federally-licensed seller of cannabis for medical purposes.
The Popularity of CBD Oil Continues to Rise
CBD is an extract from the cannabis plant that has been used to support health by supplementing the human endocannabinoid system.
The system contains receptors that produce an effect on the brain when supplemented with CBD compounds, producing a positive effect on the nervous system and overall feeling of wellbeing.
CBD does not produce THC (tetrahyrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis that creates an intoxicated or “high” feeling.
Cannabinoids such as CBD direct certain receptors in the brain to use cannabinoids naturally produced in the body. The net effect of this action is the therapeutic effect commonly associated with the use of CBD oil.
The Benefits of High-Quality CBD Oil
CBD Oil is being used for a variety of health conditions, including:
- Pain relief
- Reducing inflammation
- Multiple sclerosis
- Acne & other skin conditions
How Do You Take CBD Oil?
CBD Oil can be taken through ingestion of edible food products such as baked goods, candies or infused into butter or other oils. Other popular ways include capsules, pills or inhalation through the use of vaporization devices.
A very effective way to take CBD oil is via a tincture commonly administered under the tongue which has been shown to be best for absorption.
CBD Oil & Canadian Law
Despite its many benefits, CBD oil in Canada continues to be a highly-regulated product requiring a prescription when THC levels exceed 3%.
CBD oil legally available with a prescription in Canada is only available through producers licensed by the government under the Cannabis Act.
Issues with CBD Oil Quality in Canada
The quality of CBD oil available by government-licensed producers has come into question with consumer complaints being made about the minimal availability and quality of the product.
The most common issue about the oils produced by licensed distributors concerns the “carrier” oil, which has been suspected to be of low quality and contain significant amounts of pesticides and herbicides.
Consumer reviews about the quality of CBD oil have determined that the best quality CBD oil was available from “grey market” retailers that were operating in the dispensary market prior to the Cannabis Act of 2018.
Availability of High-Quality CBD Oil
The current law states that only federally-approved companies may sell CBD oil in Canada which has been found to be of lower quality.
Companies with the capacity to produce high-quality CBD oil and sell through dispensaries are not legally allowed to sell their products in Canada due to restrictions in the current licensing framework.
Plans to include dispensary operations in the current framework are currently underway for inclusion in the regulatory framework. Until that time most Canadians currently opt to purchase high-quality CBD oil with THC from online sources.