Demand high for cannabis, but its self-care future in Canada is uncertain

OTCINACTION

Since Canada’s introduction of the Cannabis Act, which came into force on the stroke of midnight on 17th October 2018, government-operated websites and private retailer portals powered by Shopify are reporting “hundreds of thousands” of orders, according to the company’s VP, Loren Padelford. In addition, long queues have been reportedly forming outside licensed retailers across the country, leading to shortages in some areas.

Canada is now the second country after Uruguay to legalise cannabis for recreational use by adults, who can possess up to 30g of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public; share up to 30g with other adults; purchase cannabis products from a provincial or territorial retailer; and grow up to four plants per residence (not per person) for personal use from licensed seeds or seedlings.

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At the same time, however, Health Canada has shut down all possible direct pathways for companies to market any cannabis-derived ingredient for health purposes. This, according to the department, is because the safety (and efficacy) of cannabis “is currently insufficient” once a health claim is added to a product label. This means that all levels of THC and CBD sold without a label claim can be sold to any adult but those with a claim may not.

Health Canada also ruled that all phytocannabinoids will be required to make an application for an Rx-to-OTC switch before consumer health claims could be granted through a further amendment to the Prescription Drug List. Of course, this requires a company to make an application under the New Drug regulations and pay significant fees for the processing the application. Not surprisingly, this decision lands all cannabis health products in the most expensive pathway to market access, likely only affordable to the largest of players.

For an in-depth report on this breaking story, see the forthcoming issue of OTC INSIGHT North America. If you work outside of North America, we also have titles covering Asia, Europe and Latin America. Click here to find out what key features OTC INSIGHT includes! To receive a sample issue or for details of subscription rates, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

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