Canada’s ‘cannabis health products’ review draws strong public interest, with 1,100-plus submissions

(This story has been updated with new information about the timing of the scientific review process.)

Canada’s federal health regulator received more than 1,100 responses from the public for its review of the potential market for cannabis health products, demonstrating strong industry interest in the potential new category.

Health Canada also opened up about the next steps.

Any new regulations would fill a gap in the current federal framework that 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 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, including, potentially, pharmacies, veterinary clinics and pet stores.

The consultation period was open from June 19, 2019, to Sept. 3, 2019.

Health Canada told Marijuana Business Daily it received 1,104 submissions through an online questionnaire and roughly 60 submissions via email.

However, the submissions will not be made public “to respect the privacy of participants in the consultation,” agency spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau said.

Next steps

Health Canada said it intends to publish a summary of the feedback it received during the consultation.

“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.

Health Canada told MJBizDaily it intends to launch the process “in the coming months.”

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.

Multiyear process

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.

Fraser said she will be looking for answers to:

  • How cannabis health products are defined.
  • Whether more than trace amounts of THC will be permitted.
  • What the distribution and sales models look like.

The Ottawa-area lawyer 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,” Fraser 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].

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