Canada’s top health agency plans to launch public consultations on a proposed approach for regulating natural health products containing cannabis., Hemp Industry Daily has learned.

Any subsequent regulations by Health Canada could have major implications for Canada’s CBD industry, which currently can be accessed only with a doctor’s prescription or through marijuana retailers.

“Health Canada has committed to consulting with Canadians on the proposed approach for regulating any potential new nonprescription drugs and natural health products containing cannabis,” agency spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau wrote in an email.

She did not say whether the agency is considering regulating only hemp-derived CBD products.

Canada’s health department has not yet determined when the consultations will begin or how they will work.

The consultations will focus on “the appropriate level of regulatory oversight and evidence requirements” before over-the-counter cannabis health products are allowed, Jarbeau said.

“Until these consultations and any subsequent regulations for these types of products are complete, new applications for health products with cannabis will remain limited to prescription drugs or (natural health products) with permitted cannabis parts of no more than 10 (parts per minute) THC.”

Hemp farmers in Canada say those limits are holding back the industry.

Russ Crawford, president of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), said the pending consultations are reason to be optimistic.

“It’s encouraging,” he said. “They’re gathering ideas, and I really like that.

“Our focus is to capture the full value of the hemp plant and to do that in the least-regulated manner possible.”

The CHTA and the Canadian Health Food Association recently submitted a paper to Health Canada to protest how hemp-derived CBD is classified.

The trade association believes that if CBD were regulated like a nutritional supplement, not a drug, the Canadian hemp industry would see CBD sales of 1 billion Canadian dollars ($740 million) by 2023, up from CA$80 million in 2018.

The group also said licensed hemp acres would grow from 80,000 in 2018 to 450,000 by 2023.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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