In 2018, Canada became the second country to legalize recreational cannabis. Even so, consumers still struggle to access legal CBD in Canada. Author: Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research Canada was one of the first countries to completely legalize cannabis — Including CBD oil. Learn where you can buy quality CBD oil in Canada.
Why Can’t I Easily Get Legal CBD Oil In Canada?
In October of 2018, Canada joined a very niche club, becoming only the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize recreational cannabis. However, if you thought that meant the streets would be paved in green leaves up north, you would be wrong.
Canada is divided into provinces that, like the states in the U.S., have their own laws and regulations separate from federal rulings. That means that although the Cannabis Act applies to all of Canada, depending on where you live your ability to purchase cannabis may differ. As the law rolled out some infrastructure problems made the transition a little bumpy, with supply chain issues and confusing regulations. When it came to accessing CBD products, in particular, consumers were really confused.
In October 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”).
Is CBD Oil Legal in Canada?
This is where things get tricky. CBD has had a complicated journey towards legislation in the U.S. with different states determining it to be either legal or illegal, with the final say often coming down to how it was produced. CBD derived from hemp has generally been considered permissible while CBD from marijuana has not.
With the passing of the Farm Bill, it was thought that all hemp-derived CBD would be totally legal but a press release from the FDA threw more confusion into the mix with a warning that CBD cannot be added to foods, that health claims would be rigorously tested, and a suggestion that in the future they would “consider whether there are circumstances in which certain cannabis-derived compounds might be permitted in a food or dietary supplement.”
One of the sticking points seems to be that although there are studies showing CBD can alleviate feelings of social anxiety and that it reduces inflammation and works as a pain reliever, medical claims made by CBD producers and manufacturers are untested and not regulated federally.
As reported by Ministry of Hemp, in some states CBD products are sold out in the open in major grocery chains and yet in other states, people are still being arrested for selling CBD products.
An Overview Of Legal Cannabis in Canada
The new official rules in Canada allow members of the public to possess and share up to 30 grams of legally acquired cannabis and grow up to 4 plants per residence for personal use. That provision that the cannabis must be “legally acquired” states that it must come from an approved provincial or territorial retailer. It’s also of note that in the official announcement mentions of CBD products specifically are missing.
The Cannabis Act states that “Other products, such as edible products and concentrates, will be legal for sale approximately one year after the Cannabis Act has come into force and federal regulations for their production have been developed and brought into force.”
It seems that the Canadian government is going with a soft launch focusing on psychoactive cannabis containing THC with plans to address CBD and other cannabis products at a later date.
After Uruguay, Canada is the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. However, legal CBD oil in Canada remains difficult to come by.
Coupled with this slow rollout is the fact that government officials and lawmakers have not made a distinction between products containing THC and CBD, as Trina Fraser, partner at Brazeau Seller Law, in Ottawa, Ontario explained:
“CBD, in and of itself, falls within the definition of “cannabis” in the federal Cannabis Act. As such, it is regulated just like all other cannabis products containing THC. Hemp farmers can grow hemp for the purpose of CBD extraction, but the plant must be sold to a federally licensed processor to conduct the CBD extraction, and then the CBD is subject to the same rules as all cannabis extracts.”
Canadian Cannabis Law Causes Confusion Over CBD Products
Fraser explained that there was a proposal to permit natural health products containing CBD, but it seems the process was stalled and never completed.
As CBD oil products do not have the same effect as THC consumers believe falsely that they are always legal. “There seems to be a pervasive misunderstanding as to the legal status of CBD,” said Fraser.
“Mary” from Ottawa [name changed to protect from possible prosecution] is one such confused consumer. She uses CBD to control her anxiety and told us that life without it is immeasurably worse. “I really need my CBD products, they help to keep me relaxed and to deal with symptoms of PTSD, but I really don’t understand whether or not I am allowed to legally purchase them. I order offline from a US company and they mail it to me. I have always received it with no problem, but I find I am anxious until I get my package,” she said.
What Are Licenced Producers?
Steven Looi, Director of Origination at White Sheep Corp and an industry expert from Toronto said that “CBD is treated the exact same way that THC is treated, in fact, all cannabinoids receive the same treatment in Canada. CBD is illegal unless it comes from a licensed producer.”
Health Canada claims that to become a licensed producer in Canada applicants must go through a screening process that is the toughest in the world for cannabis producers.
Consumers cannot legally purchase cannabis from any other producer.
“I really need my CBD products, they help to keep me relaxed and to deal with symptoms of PTSD, but I really don’t understand whether or not I am allowed to legally purchase them.” — “Mary,” a Canadian CBD consumer
According to Statistics Canada, there are over 100 licensed producers registered in Canada, although there may not be that number currently producing and selling their products.
Only those people with a prescription for medical marijuana can purchase CBD and only through companies authorized by the MMPR — the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. Of those 100 licensed Canadian producers, only 23 have been registered under the MMPR and are able to sell directly to the public. Therefore legally purchasing CBD in Canada, even if you have a prescription, can be very difficult.
Change is Coming For Canadian CBD Consumers
Changes are coming soon though in conjunction with ongoing public consultation, slated to be completed by the end of 2022. “All sorts of new product types will enter the legal marketplace and permit the legal sale of many products that are currently only available illegally,” said Fraser.
Experts expect access to legal CBD in Canada will improve in the coming year.
However, although it may seem that all of this uncertainty will be ironed out by years end, purchasing CBD in Canada will still require effort, despite the new laws. Legal CBD products will continue to only be available through authorized retailers and products will carry security features on the packaging like cigarettes and alcohol. There will also be strict limitations in place in terms of the health claims producers can make. Health Canada follows the legislative leaders and also makes no distinction between CBD from hemp or marijuana.
Looi pointed out that “For folks going the legal route for a CBD, legalization will give them greater access, and more products. For folks that always sourced their meds in the black market, not a whole lot has changed.”
Once edibles and other cannabis products are legalized Looi said Canadians will have access to some of the same types of products that are currently flooding the American market.
“Canadians will have better access to a proliferation of CBD products. Marketing, storytelling, and promotion will encourage many new consumers to purchase products featuring CBD,” he said.
As with any emerging industry, there are certain to be teething problems both in Canada and the United States. Unfortunately for CBD users in Canada, the much longed-for legalization has not automatically made CBD accessible for all.
Questions and Answers
What is the legal status (and evidence) of CBD oil?
Author: Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research
Cannabidiol or CBD is a naturally occurring component of cannabis. It is extracted from the cannabis plant and often made into an oil for use. CBD is not psychoactive, and does not produce the ‘high’ of THC (tetrahyrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. CBD is legal in Canada and has been used in the treatment of various medical conditions.
All cannabinoids, including CBD, produce effects in the body by attaching to certain receptors in the brain or immune system. The human body also produces its own cannabinoids. It seems that CBD does not attach directly to receptors. Instead, it directs the body to use more of its own cannabinoids to produce the therapeutic effects associated with CBD.
Research suggests that CBD may provide relief for chronic pain. Sativex is a proprietary medication that combines THC and CBD and may be prescribed for the relief of pain associated with multiple sclerosis. There is also some evidence suggesting that CBD may be a promising support for people with opioid use disorders. The researchers noted that CBD reduced some symptoms associated with substance use disorders including anxiety, mood-related symptoms, pain, and insomnia.
After researching the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil for treating epilepsy, in 2018, the United States FDA approved CBD (Epidiolex) as a therapy for two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures. Other evidence suggests that CBD may be useful in the treatment of schizophrenia, though further research is needed before introducing CBD into medical practice.
There is some initial evidence that CBD may help people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease keep the ability to recognize the faces of people that they know, and thus slow progression of the illness. Again, more research is needed in this area.
Because of the way cannabis and its products are metabolized, scientists believe there is a potential for interaction with other drugs, although nothing significant has yet been recorded. CBD has been found to be generally safe. Reports from patients indicate that negative drug interactions are not common. As with any other treatment, it is important to monitor your use of CBD and seek assistance if you experience any problems or have questions or concerns about its use.
About the author
The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, formerly CARBC, is a member of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information. The institute is dedicated to the study of substance use in support of community-wide efforts aimed at providing all people with access to healthier lives, whether using substances or not. For more, visit www.cisur.ca.
Q&A is for readers who want to take charge of their well-being, support a friend or loved one, find good help, or just learn more about mental health and substance use. Here, the information and resource experts at HeretoHelp will answer the questions that we’re asked most often. We’ll offer tips and information, and we’ll connect you with help in BC, Canada. If you have a question you’d like to ask, email us at [email protected] , tweet @heretohelpbc, or log in to HeretoHelp and post a comment on this page.
Buying CBD in Canada — What You Need to Know
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
Best CBD Vendors in Canada
1. CBD Oil Canada (Third-Party Vendor)
CBD Oil Canada is an online shop that carries most of the Canadian vendors on this list. They’re a third-party vendor which means they don’t actually make their own CBD products — they merely offer a selection of different brands like any other retail or ecommerce shop.
2. Honest Botanicals
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.
3. Island Therapeutics
Island Therapeutics is based on Vancouver island. They specialize in full-spectrum holistic CBD products. Some of their products feature additional herbs and nutrients to provide even greater benefit for combatting symptoms like pain or anxiety.
4. Miss Envy
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.
This company carries some of the best CBD concentrates and phoenix tears we’ve tried yet.
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
- 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.
Is Delta 8 THC Legal in Canada?
The short answer is yes, all naturally-occurring analogs of THC are legal in Canada.
The active ingredient in marijuana is THC. Most THC in the cannabis plant is a specific isomer called delta 9 THC.
Lately, there’s been another version of THC circulating around called delta 8 THC. It’s popular because it gets a pass from some of the more prohibitive marijuana laws in places like the United States. Learn more about the legal status of delta 8 THC in the United States.
But it goes much further than this.
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.
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.
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 .
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.