Within this legislative framework, the sale of two prescription drugs containing cannabis and a synthetic cannabinoid has been approved. Sativex contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), and Marinol contains THC. Sativex is available to Canadian patients, but Marinol was voluntarily removed from the market by its manufacturer. Drugs containing the synthetic cannabinoid nabilone have also been approved.
Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid that does not exist in nature, is not included in the Cannabis Act definition of cannabis, and will continue to be listed in the CDSA as a narcotic drug. There are currently no licensed veterinary drugs containing cannabis. I have personally visited an authorized hemp crop that produces high-quality flowers with high THCA content, that pass USDA pre-harvest tests and have high THCA levels (but remain within the 0.3% D9 limit) after harvest. For example, I recently consulted a certificate of analysis (COA) of a THCA flower that showed 25% THCA and 0.18% D9. Although THCA doesn't have an intoxicating effect when ingested, the reason marijuana smokers accept this total THC profile is because THCA converts to D9 when heated in a chemical process called decarboxylation.
In an effort to provide stakeholders with consistent information on current regulatory requirements, the Health Canada Food and Health Products Branch has created a one-stop-shop for questions related to cannabis health products. While Health Canada has previously authorized health products containing cannabis, there remains significant scientific uncertainty regarding the pharmacological actions and safety of most phytocannabinoids when included in health products. In addition, certain parts of the cannabis plant that generally do not contain psychoactive cannabinoids could be included in natural health products (NHP) or veterinary health products (VHP) under certain conditions.