The Canadian Health Food Association has urged the government to allow retailers to sell hemp-derived CBD without needing to gain a licence under the Cannabis Act.

The current regulatory framework prohibits the sale of these products outside of recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries. The CHFA argued that hemp-derived CBD is a natural health product and it should not be regulated under the Cannabis Act if it contains a negligible, non-intoxicating level of THC.

It has submitted a detailed response to Health Canada’s consultation document on the potential market for cannabis health products that do not require practitioner oversight. The proposed pathway maintains the status quo by keeping production and sale of all hemp-derived CBD under the Cannabis Act and this is shortsighted, according to CHFA. It argued that Canadians should be able to access CBD through local health stores rather than having to visit recreational marijuana dispensaries.

It pointed to a growing illicit market for CBD health products, which can be sold at all general retail stores in the USA, the UK, and other countries. It said that the current regulations stifle economic growth.

CHFA has proposed targeted amendments to Canada’s Industrial Hemp Regulations, Natural Health Products Regulations and Prescription Drug List. The changes would allow CBD to be extracted from industrial hemp, turned into concentrates and sold outside of the scope of the Cannabis Regulations.

“Rather than duplicate Canada’s existing, world class natural health products regulatory system, it would be better for Canadian consumers and Canadian industry to permit hemp-derived CBD in natural health products,” said CHFA president Helen Long.

It has also launched a national campaign called CBD is Natural, and it is urging retailers to write to their local candidates to urge them to lobby Health Canada to change its proposed regulatory framework. The idea is to mobilize Canadians to speak up during the build-up to the election.

Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada is the first candidate to commit to fighting for hemp-derived CBD to be regulated outside of the Cannabis Act.