How Delta 8 and 9 THC laws are different in Canada



Delta-8 hit shelves in Canada, but many wonder why processors want to produce a semi-synthetic THC variant. Consumers claim delta-8 is potent but less inebriating than delta-9 THC. But Canadian producers might target regulatory loopholes with THC variants.

“Synthetic” is an ambiguous word, especially for cannabinoids. Yet semi-synthetic implies chemists modified an organic substance derived from nature with fully synthetic reagents.

A byproduct of non-viable regulations

Delta-8 THC became popular in the USA once the Farm Bill removed CBD-derived hemp products from the list of scheduled drugs — below 0.3% delta-9 THC. The alternative isomer is a product of poor regulatory policies. And four years after legalization in Canada, producers are finally taking notice of delta-8.

CLN reported that delta 8 THC is absent from regulations in Canada. Yet Health Canada claimed they were monitoring regulatory nuances across new product applications at the time. The department expects producers to avoid loopholes created by THC isomers, according to an earlier email response from Health Canada. (1)

While the Cannabis Regulations do not explicitly refer to delta-8 THC, it is Health Canada’s expectation that licensed processors will not deliberately manufacture and market cannabis products designed to circumvent these types of important public health controls. Health Canada is closely monitoring the use of delta-8 THC in Canada and other jurisdictions to assess this evolving situation and to determine whether any interventions may be required.

Tammy Jarbeau |  Senior Media Relations Advisor | Communications and Public Affairs Branch Serving Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada

Canada’s federal overview on THC alternatives

Delta-8 THC products hit the Canadian market in September of 2022. The release of the D8 gummies was close to Health Canada’s review. The department, however, has no update concerning semi-synthetic THC alternatives as of October 19, 2022.

One website sells the product as Sunshower – D8 Solar Punch Gummies, with ten gummies in a pack, each containing 1mg of THC. But the website does not explicitly define the isomer of THC. (2)

Has Health Canada since considered other regulations on Delta-8-THC products?

On September 22, 2022, the Government of Canada launched the legislative review of the Cannabis Act, which aims to protect the health and safety of Canadians while serving as a flexible framework that responds to the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians. An independent panel will lead the review and engage with the public, experts, governments, and other stakeholders to ensure that the Cannabis Act continues to meet the needs and expectations of Canadians.

Jarbeau | Senior Media Relations Advisor Serving Health Canada

Since July 11, Health Canada has received 71 additional applications for new cannabis extract and edible products containing Delta 8 THC. The total number of applications received by their Department containing D8-THC now sits at 285 at the time of writing. (1, 2)

What does New Product Approval mean?

In June this year, Nextleaf Solutions released a press release promoting an unapproved THC-O-acetate vape pen. Shortly after, though, a study discovered that cannabinoid acetates emit a toxic ketene gas. (3) In a direct message, Founder and CEO of Nextleaf Solutions, Paul Pedersen, detailed nuances for processors to consider while moving a product to market.

Producers are responsible to ensure that they meet the requirements of the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Regulations, including not selling a cannabis extract that contains anything that may cause injury to the health of the user when used as intended.

Nextleaf’s Quality Assurance department takes necessary steps to validate suppliers and ensure product ingredients do not contain Vitamin E acetate or any other substances that are prohibited or that may be injurious to health.

Paul Pedersen | Founder and CEO of Nextleaf Solutions

Health Canada’s Senior Media Relations Advisor confirmed that New Product approval does not guarantee a Delta 8 THC edible or vape pen is viable for sale.

Under the Cannabis Regulations, licensed producers are required to provide Health Canada with 60 days’ notice in advance of selling a cannabis product for the first time in Canada. This requirement applies to all cannabis products. 

This notice does not constitute approval for sale by Health Canada, nor does it mean that the product complies with legislative or regulatory requirements. Licensed processors are responsible for ensuring that their products comply with the Cannabis Act and its regulations

It also does not mean that a product will be released into the marketplace as many factors influence final product availability. 

Jarbeau | Senior Media Relations Advisor Serving Health Canada

Rules beyond the fed’s grasp

Delta-8 THC can serve patients and consumers with a different experience than Delta-9. Health Canada does not, however, accept THC isomers as an excise tax loophole or a potency limit workaround. (1) Federal regulations are but one hurdle for producers to overcome, though. (2)

Provinces and territories, who are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold in their jurisdictions, would be better positioned to offer insight/provide information related to the availability of these cannabis products at the retail level.

Jarbeau | Senior Media Relations Advisor Serving Health Canada

Let us know in the comments if you have tried a legal Canadian D8 product. What is your experience with alternative THC isomers?

Sources

  1. Communication from Senior Media Relations Advisor serving Health Canada, July 11, 2022.
  2. Communication from Senior Media Relations Advisor serving Health Canada, October 19, 2022.
  3. Munger KR, Jensen RP, Strongin RM. Vaping Cannabinoid Acetates Leads to Ketene Formation. Chem Res Toxicol. 2022;35(7):1202-1205. doi:10.1021/acs.chemrestox.2c00170

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