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Cannabidiol (CBD)

There is increasing interest, both in Canada and worldwide, in CBD. CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It is regulated in Canada under the Cannabis Act.

On this page

  • Where CBD comes from
  • How we regulate CBD in Canada
  • Growing cannabis plants containing CBD commercially
  • Producing and selling CBD
  • Importing and exporting CBD products
  • Industrial hemp
  • What industrial hemp licence holders may and may not do
  • Importing and exporting industrial hemp
  • The difference between cannabis oil and hemp-seed oil
  • CBD and prescription drugs
  • CBD in natural health products, veterinary health products and cosmetics
  • CBD in human food or pet food

Where CBD comes from

The cannabis plant contains hundreds of chemical substances. Over 100 of these are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids derived from cannabis plants are sometimes called phytocannabinoids.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of these cannabinoids. CBD is not intoxicating and may reduce some of the effects of tetrahydracannabinol (THC); however, it does have an effect on the brain.

CBD can be found in different varieties of the cannabis plant, including hemp.

All phytocannabinoids are regulated under the new Cannabis Act. The Act came into force on October 17, 2018.

How we regulate CBD in Canada

CBD is a controlled substance under United Nations drug control conventions. Consistent with the controlled status of CBD internationally, CBD is a controlled substance in Canada and other jurisdictions.

As a result, CBD and products containing CBD are subject to all of the rules and requirements that apply to cannabis under the Cannabis Act and its regulations. This includes CBD derived from industrial hemp plants, as well as CBD derived from other varieties of cannabis.

Under the Cannabis Act activities with phytocannabinoids (including CBD) remain illegal, unless authorized.

Before the Cannabis Act came into force, CBD was:

  • regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
  • strictly controlled

It was not legal to produce, sell, import or export CBD unless authorized for medical or scientific purposes.

Under the Cannabis Act, CBD products remain strictly regulated and are only legal when sold in compliance with the Act and its regulations.

The Act and accompanying regulations place strict controls on cannabis:

  • possession
  • production
  • distribution
  • sale

Health Canada oversees the production of cannabis products. Health Canada is also responsible for overseeing the distribution and sale of:

  • cannabis, including any CBD-containing cannabis products for medical purposes

The provinces and territories are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold within their jurisdictions.

They set rules around:

  • how cannabis products can be sold
  • where stores may be located
  • how stores must be operated

Growing cannabis plants containing CBD for commercial sale

To cultivate any cannabis plants that you intend to sell, you must have a federal licence issued under the Cannabis Act.

This licence could be:

  • a cultivation licence under the Cannabis Regulations
    • authorizing growing of cannabis plants with varying amounts of THC and CBD
  • an industrial hemp licence under the Industrial Hemp Regulations
    • authorizing cultivation of specific varieties of cannabis plants with a THC content of no more than 0.3% in the flowering heads, branches and leaves.

Producing and selling CBD

CBD and products containing CBD are subject to all of the rules and requirements that apply to cannabis under the Cannabis Act and its regulations.

You must have a processing licence to manufacture products containing CBD for sale, no matter what the source of the CBD is.

CBD and products containing CBD, such as cannabis oil, may only be sold by a:

  • provincially or territorially-authorized cannabis retailer
  • federally-licensed seller of cannabis for medical purposes

Importing and exporting CBD products

Movement of cannabis and cannabis products between countries is covered by 3 United Nations drug conventions, including the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol.

CBD is currently a controlled substance under the Single Convention. CBD products may therefore only be imported or exported under very specific conditions. Any import or export must meet all of these criteria and may only be done:

  • by a holder of a licence issued under the Cannabis Regulations
  • under an import or export permit issued to the licence holder by Health Canada for that shipment
  • for a legitimate scientific or medical purpose, as per international agreements

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp is cannabis that contains 0.3% THC or less in the flowering heads and leaves.

The Industrial Hemp Regulations under the Cannabis Act set out the requirements for cultivators of industrial hemp. As is currently the case, cultivators of industrial hemp must grow from the hemp varieties approved for commercial cultivation.

Although it may not have more than 0.3% THC, there is no limit to the amount of CBD that may be contained in industrial hemp plants.

The Cannabis Act and its regulations do not distinguish between CBD derived from industrial hemp and CBD derived from cannabis with greater than 0.3% THC.

What industrial hemp licence holders may and may not do

An industrial hemp licence holder may cultivate hemp to produce a number of different products. They may:

  • sell viable seeds
  • sell grain (i.e. non-viable seeds) or hemp seed derivatives for use in:
    • food
    • cosmetics
    • other products
  • cultivate hemp for the flowering heads, branches and leaves, which may contain CBD
  • sell those flowering heads, branches and leaves to a licence holder under the Cannabis Regulations, who may then extract the CBD

Hemp producers may not extract the CBD themselves, unless they also have a cannabis processing or research licence.

Importing and exporting industrial hemp

The Industrial Hemp Regulations authorize importing and exporting industrial hemp seed or grain, but not the flowering heads, branches or leaves.

The flowering heads, branches and leaves may only be imported or exported by a licence holder under the Cannabis Regulations:

  • with a permit issued under those regulations
  • for legitimate medical and scientific purposes

To import or export the industrial hemp seeds or grain, you must:

  • hold a licence from Health Canada
  • have an import or export permit issued by Health Canada

When importing or exporting industrial hemp seeds or grain, you may also need to obtain an import or export permit from the other country, depending on their rules.

The difference between cannabis oil and hemp-seed oil

Cannabis oil is 1 of the 5 classes of cannabis that may currently be legally sold in Canada by provincially and territorially-authorized retailers:

  • cannabis oil
  • fresh cannabis
  • dried cannabis
  • cannabis seeds
  • cannabis plants

Cannabis oil is a combination of:

  • cannabis:
    • usually in the form of a THC and/or CBD-rich extract from the leaves and flowering heads of the cannabis plant, which may include plants classified as industrial hemp
  • a vegetable-based or plant-based oil such as:
    • olive
    • canola
    • grape seed
    • hemp-seed oil

Hemp-seed oil is oil made from pressing the grain of hemp plants. It is processed like other oil seeds, such as canola. In order for hemp-seed oil to be exempt from the Cannabis Act, it can’t contain more than 10 parts per million of THC.

For hemp-seed oil to be exempted from the Cannabis Act, no phytocannabinoid including THC and CBD may be added or concentrated by processing.

Hemp-seed oil is marketed in Canada in:

  • food
  • cosmetics
  • natural health products
  • veterinary health products

CBD and prescription drugs

All phytocannabinoids, with several exceptions, are listed on the Prescription Drug List. If you wish to manufacture and sell a health product containing CBD that makes a health claim, you require approval for the product as a prescription drug under the Food and Drug Regulations.

CBD in natural health products, veterinary health products and cosmetics

Only limited parts of cannabis or hemp plants may be used in a:

  • natural health product (NHPs)
    • under the Natural Health Product Regulations
  • veterinary health product (VHPs)
    • under the Food and Drug Regulations

NHPs and VHPs may only contain parts of the cannabis and hemp plants that are not considered cannabis under the Cannabis Act or that are excluded from the application of the Act. This includes things such as:

  • non-viable seeds
  • hemp-seed derivatives that are compliant with the Industrial Hemp Regulations
  • mature stalks that do not include any leaves, flowers, seeds or branches and fibre from such stalks are also excluded from the Cannabis Act, but they may not be used in veterinary health products.

Deliberately adding phytocannabinoids to such products is not permitted.

These same restrictions also apply to cosmetics, which may only contain hemp derivatives.

CBD in human food or pet food

Edible cannabis will not be permitted for sale until the Regulations Amending the Cannabis Regulations (New Classes of Cannabis) come into force on October 17, 2019.
These regulations set out strict controls to reduce the:

  • appeal of such products to youth;
  • risk of accidental consumption, especially of edible cannabis, including by youth;
  • risk of overconsumption associated with edible cannabis because of the delay in experiencing the effects of cannabis when it is ingested rather than inhaled; and
  • risk of foodborne illness associated with the production and consumption of edible cannabis.

Edible cannabis will only be available for human consumption.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is found in cannabis plants. About its regulation, growing, selling, importing, exporting, about industrial hemp and CBD in drugs, food and other products.

Buying CBD in Canada — What You Need to Know

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Table of Contents
  • Summary: Buying CBD in Canada
  • How to Buy CBD Products in Canada (Legally)
    • Tips for Buying CBD in Canada
  • A Brief History of Cannabis Laws in Canada
  • Is CBD Legal In Canada?
  • Canadian Law: What is The Cannabis Act?
    • Can I Take CBD Oils From Canada to the US?
    • How is Industrial Hemp Regulated Under the Cannabis Act?
  • Final Notes on Buying CBD In Canada

Since October 2018, cannabis — both hemp and marijuana are legal for both medical and recreational use.

Today, you can purchase hemp-derived CBD products and marijuana flowers across Canadian dispensaries without a doctor’s prescription.

Legal cannabis comes with strict regulation and plenty of legal hoops to jump through just to be able to operate in the Canadian market. Many companies operating in Europe and the United States are unavailable in Canada as a direct result of this.

The best place to find CBD products approved for the Canadian market is at CBD Oil Canada.

This article will take you on a walk through the Canadian CBD world where you’ll learn the best options for buying CBD.

Summary: Buying CBD in Canada

  • For the most part, CBD oil brands in Canada aren’t available outside the country — for the best selection of Canadian-specific CBD products, check out the selection at CBD Oil Canada
  • CBD is regulated under the Cannabis Act, and it falls under the same regulations as cannabis — regardless of its THC content
  • CBD oils are completely legal in Canada, and you can buy it without a prescription
  • You won’t be able to buy CBD oil from most US or European CBD brands (exception is Endoca)
  • CBD retailers must be authorized to sell cannabis products — a process that can take many months and cripling legal fees

How to Buy CBD Products in Canada (Legally)

The Canadian CBD market is very different from pretty much everywhere else simply because the whole plant is legal and regulated. The same restrictions apply whether a company is selling CBD oil or psychoactive THC oil.

In order for CBD brands to operate here, they need to spend a ton of money on legal fees and applications and endure a rigorous application process that can take over a year to complete.

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.

In order to even sell CBD oil in Canada, companies need to go through a completely separate application process that requires a lot of experience to navigate. This makes it both tedious and expensive.

This means many US brands haven’t bothered to apply and don’t offer direct shipping to Canada. It also means the CBD marketplace in Canada is very unique to the country. Many of the brands operating here aren’t offered anywhere else in the world.

The best place to shop for Canadian CBD products is through a Canadian CBD marketplace.

I live in Canada and have used this company several times. My favorite brand here is Island Therapeutics — which sell some really nice full-spectrum hemp extract grown in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.

Tips for Buying CBD in Canada

  • Order from a Canadian-certified CBD retailer — such as CBD Oil Canada
  • European CBD brands are more likely to ship to Canada than US brands
  • Understand the differences between CBD oil and THC oil
  • Expect to pay about 15% more for CBD oil in Canada compared to the US
  • Know your retailer/company — shop from proven brands like Island Therapeutics
  • Don’t look purely at aesthetics — your CBD product can have great branding and still be of poor quality
  • Look for evidence of third-party testing before you buy
  • Avoid buying CBD labeled with health claims — this is illegal in Canada

A Brief History of Cannabis Laws in Canada

Canada has a complex cannabis history.

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.

Towards the end of the century, cannabis production was replaced with cotton due to cheaper labor costs.

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.

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.

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.

Marijuana became popular in Canada in the 60s with the rise of the counterculture. Ten years later, advocates made efforts to legalize marijuana.

In 1998, the Canadian government allowed cultivation and processing of industrial hemp under very restrictive rules.

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.

Today, under the Cannabis Act, cannabis — regardless of its THC content — is completely legal in Canada. The country allows the cultivation of both marijuana and industrial hemp.

Is CBD Legal In Canada?

Under the Cannabis Act, both marijuana and industrial hemp are completely legal in Canada. However, only cannabis licensed processors and retailers can extract, produce, and sell CBD.

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.

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.

Anybody that wants to sell CBD oils in Canada needs to go through a complicated application process that can take several months. The whole process costs a fortune and leaves a lot of startup founders pulling their hair out.

Canadian Law: What is The Cannabis Act?

During his campaign in 2015, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to legalize recreational marijuana. In October 2018, the Canadian Cannabis Act came into effect, amending the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and the Criminal Code.

Before the Cannabis Act, CBD was strictly regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and was illegal to produce it or sell unless it was authorized for medical or scientific purposes.

The Cannabis Act includes several regulations on the cannabis plant — both marijuana and hemp.

Following its rules, you must be at least 19 (18 in Alberta and Quebec) years of age to purchase cannabis products, and you’re limited to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public at a time.

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.

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.

Can I Take CBD Oils From Canada to the US?

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.

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.

Do not cross any borders with CBD products.

How is Industrial Hemp Regulated Under the Cannabis Act?

The Cannabis Act includes a specific regulation on hemp, known as the Industrial Hemp Regulations Program (IHR). The Industrial Hemp Regulations Program defines hemp as a cannabis plant and plant parts with a THC content of 0.3% or less in the leaves and flowering heads [1].

Under this program, Canadian farmers can grow low-THC cannabis — which we’ll refer to as industrial hemp — under government-regulated conditions. To cultivate, process, and sell industrial hemp, Canadian farmers must obtain a federal license.

The IHR allows the procession and sale of industrial hemp derivatives such as hemp seed oil, hemp flour, and hemp seeds.

Under the IHR, industrial hemp does not include derivatives obtained from the flowering parts of the leaves.

Therefore, farmers who want to extract derivatives from industrial hemp (including CBD), must obtain a cannabis processing license.

The cannabis processing license authorizes the grower to cultivate hemp for the parts that have CBD and process them for CBD products.

Without this license, the hemp grower can still cultivate the plant for CBD-containing parts but only sell them to a licensed cannabis processor.

Final Notes on Buying CBD In Canada

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.

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.

Selling CBD oils in Canada requires a lot of money, and a lot of legal hoops to jump through which can take several months or longer.

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.

Instead, head to a marketplace like CBD Oil Canada, or check out some Canadian CBD brands like Island Therapeutics, Ontario Cannabis Shop, or Tilray.

Canada was one of the first countries to completely legalize cannabis — Including CBD oil. Learn where you can buy quality CBD oil in Canada.