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The Legality of CBD in Canada


THE LEGALITY OF CBD IN CANADA

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-psychoactive agent contained in Cannabis species which is a type of cannabinoids. They are found in varying proportions in species of cannabis and their use has been exploited in medicine. Since they do not have psychotropic properties, there is no risk of addiction, abuse or overdose. 

Cannabinoids:

These are naturally occurring agents that are found in all species of cannabis. They are different in composition and are seen in varying proportions in the species. Though there are 480 compounds contained in Cannabis, only about 66 are referred to as cannabinoids.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most popular for its psychoactive property and is the main psychotropic agent present in cannabis species. CBD is another important component as it makes up about 40% of the plant renin extract. However, CBD does not have any psychoactive property. 

Cannabinoids are grouped into the following subclasses:

  • Cannabigerols
  • Cannabidiol
  • Cannabichromenes
  • Cannabinols
  • Cannabicyclol

Effects of cannabinoids:

The effects of Cannabinoids are based on their levels of psychoactivity. The most psychoactive of the cannabinoids is the THC, which has been shown to have effects on the brain receptors and alter its normal functioning. Some of these effects include alteration of memory, cognition, limbic system function and others. CBD directly combats these effects and has been shown to have effects on the brain that calms people with anxiety disorders and other nervous disturbances.

Most cannabinoids have tendency to create dependency and addiction. Some side effects of cannabinoids include increased heartbeat, dizziness, depression and hallucination.

Cannabidiol

This is a chemical compound found in almost every species of Cannabis. It makes of about 40% of the chemical content found in the plant renin extract and has been found to have many beneficial uses in medicine. It cannot however be legally added to food products or drugs and can only be used in cosmetics if it contains less than 0.3% of THC. During extraction however, there can be adequate purification of CBD such that there are no traces of THC in it. This then can be used in medicine, food and cosmetics.

How it Works:

The mechanism by which cannabidiol exerts its effects is not clearly understood, but it seems to prevent chemical breakdown of neurotransmitters involved in eliciting pain and affecting mood and mental functioning.

The prevention of breakdown of these neurotransmitters increase their quantity in the bloodstream and consequently seems to improve psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia.

There is also evidence that cannabidiol acts against THC by blocking and neutralizing some of its psychoactive properties.

Cannabidiol also seems to have some effects on anxiety, pain and nervous disorders. It has found use in medicine in the treatment of two types of epilepsy that previously had no cure. This in itself is a major breakthrough in science.

Uses of Cannabidiol in Medicine:

Cannabidiol is mostly used in the management of seizures like epilepsy, anxiety, pain, dystonia, parkinsonism, Crohn’s diseases and many other disorders. Other uses are:

  • Multiple sclerosis: This is an autoimmune disease associated with severe muscle weakness and pain. Cannabidiol has been used successfully for the relieve of people with this condition and a synthetic drug, Savitex, which is a nasal spray-only drug has been derived from it. Savitex has been noted to relieve muscle tightness, decrease pain and improve frequency of urination.
  • Insomnia: High doses of cannabidiol is known to cause patients to sleep restfully and not have nightmares or recall dreams. At low doses, there might be drowsiness and dizziness, but some have had trouble sleeping.
  • Glaucoma: This is caused by elevated intraocular pressure which has been noticed to be decreased by cannabidiol, hence decreasing the risks of glaucoma.
  • Other conditions that seem to respond positively to cannabidiol include inflammatory bowel syndrome, HIV/AIDS symptoms and many more.
  • Anti-inflammatory property: Cannabidiol prevents the release of hormones that are responsible for eliciting pain and promotion of inflammation, hence they have found use in the treatment of various forms of arthritis, inflammatory diseases and other conditions related to inflammation. 
  • Parkinson’s disease: Though there is little record of this, Parkinson’s disease has been said to respond positively to treatment with cannabidiol and has been shown to have reduced muscle tremors, reduction in muscle tightness and a relieve from muscle weakness.
  • Cannabidiol oil has been noticed to be effective in management of muscle disorders, jet lag, sore muscles and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, myositis which is the inflammation of the muscles and many others. Mostly, cannabidiol oils are used externally and massaged into the skin as analgesic agents.

Safety concerns associated with Cannabinoids:

  • Route of administration: Drugs taken orally are in general the safest because they can be bio transformed in the gut and liver before getting to their sites of action. Taken under the tongue or directly injected into the bloodstream, cannabinoids may elicit adverse reactions that may cause injury and damage to the body and in worse case scenarios lead to death.

Purified cannabidiol however can be taken with prescription under the tongue, through the mouth and intranasally without record of damage to these organs.

In some patients however, there have been reports of side effects such as lightheadedness, thickened mucus, dried mouth, low blood pressure and drowsiness.

  • Dosage: Depending on age groups, care must be taken to follow prescribed doses. There has been report of liver damage due to metabolism of high drug doses.
  • Liver disease: Those with diseased and compromised liver are advised to take lower doses of cannabidiol because the liver is the major organ of chemical breakdown. 
  • Drug Combinations: A wide range of drugs react negatively when taken in combination with cannabidiol. They include valproate which is highly acidic. Combination of valproate and cannabidiol increases risks of liver damage. Clobazam is metabolized by the liver, combination of this with cannabidiol causes a reduction in the liver’s ability to break down clobazam into its active components and increases chances of toxicity.
  • Food interactions: Foods containing fats enhance the absorption of cannabidiol by the body and can lead to toxicity even when normal doses are taken. Hence, they should be avoided when taking cannabidiols.

The Legal Status of Cannabidiol

The Farm Bill which was passed in 2018, makes it possible to legally sell hemp and its products. However, this does not cover for all cannabinoids. Though Cannabidiol is being studied as a new drug, its use in drug production and in the manufacture of food is not legally accepted. It can be used however in cosmetic production as long as the THC content is lower than 0.3%.

Purified forms however are allowed for use in medicine and for the treatment of medical conditions as long as prescription is strictly adhered to.  

Legal Status in Canada

Within Canada it is legal to produce and sell products containing cannabidiol, the transfer of these products from Canada to other states or importation into Canada is seen as illegal. This is in accordance with the Cannabis act which states that it is illegal to take Cannabis and Cannabis products across the Canadian border whether you’re leaving or coming to Canada. Those who work legally in the Cannabis industry can show proof across borders to border officers and be given a pass to move these products. Also, for research purposes in registered laboratories, these laws do not hold and importation of Cannabidiol is legally approved.

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