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Learn about the pros, cons, costs and legality of this relatively new cannabis byproduct.

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The passage of the Cannabis Act in 2018 paved the way for increased CBD production and distribution, making it readily available across the country. Many people are beginning to use CBD and hemp for a variety of reasons such as reducing anxiety, improving sleep, treating migraines and reducing inflammation.

In Canada, cannabis products are highly regulated for quality control and to prevent unhealthy usage. As always, consult your doctor before introducing CBD oil or any other type of alternative medicine into your daily life.

What is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an oil extracted from the leaves, flowers and stems of the hemp plant cannabis sativa. CBD is the second-most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis — with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being the first and the chemical that makes you feel high or stoned.

But unlike THC, CBD causes no psychoactive impairment. Rather, it’s been shown to successfully treat a plethora of physical and psychological conditions without any mind-altering effects. Studies on CBD’s benefits are ongoing, but users report relief from symptoms of everything from anxiety, depression and hyperactivity to migraines, epilepsy and heart disease.

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    How to choose the best CBD product for you

    With an increasing number of cannabis and hemp products available on the market, it can seem like an almost insurmountable task understanding what’s what, and which product is best for you. Consider the following factors:

    • Price
    • Ingredients
    • Consumption method
    • Where hemp is sourced from
    • Extraction method
    • CBD oil purity and concentration
    • Third-party lab testing
    • Safety warnings
    • Customer reviews
    • Brand reputation

    Pros and cons of CBD oil

    Know the benefits and possible drawbacks of CBD to help you decide if it’s right for you.

    Pros

    • Treats a long list of conditions and ailments. CBD has been shown through studies and anecdotal evidence to ease the symptoms of many illnesses and conditions.
    • Nonpsychoactive. CBD offers all the benefits without any impairment, so you can still work, drive and live life as usual. Users report feeling an overall sense of wellbeing.
    • 100% legal in Canada (if sold by an authorized retailer). CBD products are legal throughout Canada provided such products are sold by retailers that are in compliance with registration and licensing requirements set out by Health Canada and the CRA.
    • Available in a wide range of consumption methods. You can pick and choose the best option for taking CBD for your budget and lifestyle.
    • Comes in a variety of concentrations. Different strengths and concentrations offer users options to meet their needs.
    • Suitable for long-term use. There is no time limit for how long you can use CBD.
    • Options for pets available. You can find products with lower concentrations that are suitable to sustain your cat or dog’s health. It’s used most often for pain relief in pets.

    Cons

    • Products can be expensive. Supplementing your own health using CBD can get costly over time.
    • CBD affects everyone differently. Most users report positive effects from using CBD, but some say they saw no significant difference, or the differences were so slow and subtle it was difficult to pinpoint its benefits. Some users reported feeling worse after discontinuing CBD.
    • It can be tricky to determine the right product and dosage for you. For newbies to the world of CBD, it can take some time to figure out how you prefer to ingest CBD, and what concentration and dosage best meets your needs.
    • Long-term effects are unknown. CBD oil safety and its limitations will become clearer as more studies and tests are conducted.
    • Possible positive drug test results. With trace amounts of THC in some CBD products, consuming large quantities could result in a positive drug test.

    How much does CBD oil cost in Canada?

    The cost of CBD products varies widely across Canada. A CBC news report released in February, 2020 revealed that the price of the same (or equivalent) products sold by authorized cannabis retailers across Canada can vary by as much as 50% — in some cases even more.

    The Cannabis Act (2018) gives each province and territory the right to decide how cannabis is sold including who is allowed to sell it, where stores can be located and how such stores should be run. The cost of CBD products is ultimately determined by negotiations between wholesalers and producers at the provincial and territorial level. Therefore, the price you can expect to pay for CBD products depends on where you live.

    Even though costs vary, here’s a breakdown of what you could pay per mg of CBD based on the type of product. We’ve also provided an example of how much each bottle, container or tincture might cost you if you purchase from an online retailer within Canada.

    ProductDescriptionCBD cost per mgExample cost
    CapsuleCapsule contents are time-released and offer the longest effects.$0.08 to $0.1130-count bottle of 25mg CBD capsules — $60 to $80
    ConcentrateConcentrates typically consist of CBD isolates, which is the purest form of CBD.$0.03 to $0.91,000mg container — $25 to $85
    EdibleThink gummy bears, cookies, brownies or lollipops.$0.10 to $0.1410-count bag of 25mg gummies — $26 to $35
    Pet oilSame CBD as used for human consumption, with concentrations between 2.5% and 5%.$0.14 to $0.20250mg tincture, 30ml (or 8.3mg per ml, which is suitable for medium-sized pets) — $35 to $50
    TinctureOils and tinctures for sublingual use have a huge price range. Look at factors like concentration, additives and hemp source when comparing options.$0.10 to $0.15500mg tincture, 30ml (16.67mg per ml) — $50 to $75
    TopicalFound in body wellness products like creams, balms and lotions.$0.12 to $0.17300mg CBD pain cream, 50ml (6mg per ml) — $35 to $50
    Vape oilAs with tinctures there is a wide range of supply and prices.$0.10 to $0.15500mg e-liquid, 0.5ml — $50 to $75

    Yes, cannabis products — including CBD oil — can be legally sold in all provinces and territories provided you’re buying from an authorized retailer. Authorized retailers must be compliant with provincial/territorial regulations governing how cannabis products can be handled and sold.

    These retailers must also buy from wholesale growers, producers and distributors that are registered and licensed as required by Health Canada and the CRA. Any distributor or retailer acting outside of this framework is operating illegally.

    Even international retailers must comply with Canadian laws on CBD production and distribution, which is why you won’t find many CBD retailers outside Canada that ship to customers in Canada

    Visit the Government of Canada website to see a list of licensed cannabis cultivators, processors and sellers throughout Canada.

    Are CBD companies regulated by Health Canada?

    Yes. In Canada, CBD is viewed similarly to alcohol in terms of how it’s regulated. The Cannabis Act requires anyone who wants to grow and sell cannabis plants to be federally licensed by Health Canada. Legally, cannabis products like CBD oil can only be sold by provincially or territorially-authorized cannabis retailers or federally-licensed medical cannabis sellers.

    How to legally start a cannabis business

    Is CBD safe?

    While CBD is nonaddictive and nontoxic — it’s unlikely that you’ll fatally overdose on CBD — consuming excessive amounts can result in negative side effects such as fatigue, irritability and nausea. However, exceptions may exist so consult with a doctor before starting any CBD regimen.

    Products made and sold outside of Canada’s regulatory framework may not subject to adequate quality control and could be harmful. You can’t be certain that a product you purchase contains the active ingredients at correct dosage levels as indicated on the label, and the product could carry unknown elements.

    Does CBD contain THC?

    Pure CBD isolate doesn’t contain any THC. Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum oils are permitted to contain trace amounts of THC — or no more than 0.03%.

    Is it okay to use CBD oil while taking prescription medications?

    Research is increasingly supporting the idea that CBD interacts with different medications much like statins for cholesterol and antidepressants for mood. This is particularly the case with medications that are typically prescribed by psychiatrists and primary care physicians.

    The exact nature of the interaction may vary depending on the medication. For example, taking CBD with some medications may increase patients’ blood levels, while taking it with others could cause a decrease in blood levels. It’s important to speak with your doctor about taking CBD, so your medication regime and/or dosages can be adjusted if necessary. If patients use CBD products without consulting their physicians, they could potentially experience additional, unanticipated side effects like dizziness and sedation.

    While more research is needed to determine possible contraindications with specific medications, one good rule to follow is to avoid CBD if your medication warns against consuming grapefruit or other citrus. And you should always consult your physician before taking any type of alternative medicine like CBD oil.

    Will I test positive on a drug test if I take CBD oil?

    While pure CBD should not show up on a urine drug test, some unauthorized or low-quality CBD products may actually contain tiny amounts of THC despite being advertised as being 100% CBD. This could potentially lead to a positive drug test.

    In fact, some CBD products randomly tested by the FDA in the US have shown higher THC trace concentrations than labeled. Heavily consuming CBD that contains trace amounts of THC could show up on a drug test. Any CBD product sold in Canada must be compliant with Health Canada regulations, which includes regulations for packaging and labelling.

    If you’re concerned about a product, make sure the seller is authorized to sell cannabis products. You should also check with your doctor to make sure you’re using products that are safe and won’t interact negatively with any prescription medications you’re taking.

    What conditions can be treated with CBD oil?

    The list of health conditions that CBD oil has been helpful in treating is substantial — and it’s only growing as ongoing studies continue and user anecdotal evidence emerges. However, you should always consult your doctor before trying any type of alternative medicine.

    The strongest scientific evidence shows its greatest effectiveness in treating severe epileptic conditions among children. However, some other conditions that CBD has been reported to effectively treat are:

    • Anxiety
    • Insomnia
    • Diabetes
    • Multiple sclerosis symptoms
    • Heart disease
    • Depression
    • Pain from fibromyalgia, sclerosis and arthritis
    • Cancer-related symptoms
    • Acne, psoriasis and eczema
    • High blood pressure, heart disease and metabolic syndrome
    • Psychotic symptoms
    • Neurodegeneration from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

    What are the side effects of CBD oil?

    Some of the side effects users reported experiencing included:

    • Improved sleep
    • Increased sense of wellbeing
    • Reduced stress
    • Greater ability to focus
    • Improved mood
    • Stomach upset
    • Drowsiness
    • Decreased appetite
    • Dry mouth

    You can learn more about the long-term and short-term effects of using cannabis by checking out this page on the Government of Canada’s website. You can also take a look at this one-sheet breakdown of the potential side effects of CBD oil and products on the USFDA’s website.

    Where can I buy CBD oils?

    You have 3 different options to purchase CBD oil:

    • Recreational dispensary. A retail store that sells cannabis products and accessories. These stores are licensed by the province or territory in which they operate.
    • Medical dispensary. Only sells to people carrying a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana or a medical marijuana card.
    • Online CBD stores. Check out our guide to explore your options for buying CBD oil and gummies online for home delivery.

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    How to purchase CBD products online in 4 steps

    Shopping online is likely the easiest way to get your CBD oil products. Follow these steps to get started:

    1. Understand the basics of CBD.

    Do your research to know how it works, its benefits and the ways in which you would prefer to consume it: inhalation, sublingually, topically or orally.

    2. Select your buying criteria.

    Considerations before choosing a product include:

    • Taste. Are you OK with the taste of hemp? Do you care if the product contains added flavor or preservatives?
    • Price. Know your budget and start off small.
    • Onset of effects. Do you want immediate effects? Or do you prefer a slower onset that lasts longer?
    • Ease of use. Do you want to keep it simple, or are you comfortable using accessories to administer the product?
    • Concentration. Is potency an important factor? Are you trying it out for the first time?

    3. Know your product options.

    CBD comes in many different forms:

    • Tinctures. Taken orally and easy to administer, the onset of effects is often less than an hour.
    • Pastes and concentrates. Taken sublingually, it offers the highest CBD concentration — and effects can be felt often within 30 minutes.
    • Vape oil. Heats into a vapor that’s easily inhaled and absorbed with immediate onset of effects that wear off quickest.
    • Topicals. Includes balms, oils and lotions that take about an hour to take effect.
    • Capsules. Offers concentrated amounts with a slow onset but longer-lasting effects.
    • Edibles. Found in fun options like gummies, hard candies, cookies and more — edibles offer the slowest onset.

    4. Purchase from a reputable company.

    This can be tough to know when you’re just starting out. CBD Oil Canada, Island Therapeutics, CBD2HEAL or Tilray (for medical cannabis) are good places to start looking for the products you want. If you live in Ontario, the Ontario Cannabis Store is another good place to check out.

    Use it to shop around and browse different retailer options to get an idea of the breadth of products available to you. Once you place your order, it will be delivered to your address.

    Are there different types of CBD oil?

    You’ll find three different types of CBD oil available, each one with a different composition for different treatment purposes.

    • Full-spectrum. Refers to an oil that contains all naturally occurring cannabinoids and phytochemicals in the cannabis plant. They are high in CBD with only trace amounts of minor cannabinoids and THC (0.3% or less), terpenes fatty acids and essential oils.
    • Broad-spectrum. Contains most of the compounds of the cannabis plant, but the THC is completely removed. It still contains cannabinoids that produce an “entourage effect” — the chemistry that cannabis compounds create together for an overall beneficial effect on the user.
    • CBD isolate. Exactly as it sounds, specific compounds are extracted from all other ingredients and is CBD in its purest form at 99% purity — over 900mg per one gram of powder. Different isolates treat specific conditions, and isolates won’t give you the benefit of the entourage effect.

    How do I know what dose to take?

    CBD oil can be classified in 3 different concentration levels. Lower concentrations tend to be suitable for mild symptoms, whereas high concentrations work better for people experiencing severe symptoms with average dosage intervals.

    • Low-concentration CBD oils — 300 mg
    • Mid-concentration CBD oils — 600 mg
    • High-concentration CBD oils — 1,000 mg and above

    As with any medication, consult your physician before taking CBD.

    How long will it take before I feel the effects of CBD oil?

    The length of time it takes for you to feel the effects of CBD can vary depending on numerous factors, such as the dosage, CBD concentration, CBD type, consumption method and individual biological factors. But users can typically expect to feel the full effect anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours after dosing.

    Typically, the more immediate the effects, the shorter the duration. Similarly, the slower the onset of effects, the longer they seem to last.

    Can I get high off of CBD?

    The ingredients in CBD are all nonpsychoactive — in other words, you don’t get the high you would from THC. Rather, users report feeling a gradual and overall sense of calm, peace and wellbeing.

    How is CBD oil extracted and made?

    CBD can be extracted with several different methods, including:

    • CO2. Using a closed-loop extractor, cannabis material is kept under extreme pressure so the CO2 stays in a liquid state and absorbs the plant oils. When it returns to its gas state, the oils remain.
    • Liquid solvents. A similar extraction method as CO2, but instead uses solvents. It’s a cheaper and easier extraction method, but can sometimes transfer impurities and chlorophyll to the CBD oil to give it a green tinge and bitter taste.
    • Oil infusion. Plant material is heated enough to activate the compounds, then added to coconut oil or other similar carrier oil and heated for up to two hours at 212°F.
    • Winterization. Used only for making CBD isolates, extracted oil is mixed with 200-proof alcohol and frozen overnight. It’s then run through a filter to remove fats and other materials, and heated enough to boil off the alcohol.
    • Short-path distillation. CBD material is slowly heated to boil off undesirable substances and create vapor. The vapors travel through a distillation tube and cooling coils where they condense into liquid.

    Frequently asked questions

    Get even more answers to your most burning questions about CBD to decide if it’s right for you.

    What’s the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?

    CBD stands for cannabidiol, a chemical compound found in the leaves, stems and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant that is used to treat a variety of health conditions. Hemp oil is extracted from the seeds of the cannabis plant and is primarily used in cosmetics, health and beauty products.

    Can I vape any CBD oil?

    CBD vaping oil is the only CBD form you can vape. It’s a liquid made up of food-grade ingredients, but actually contains no oil. Vaping CBD should only be consumed in a vape, and never taken orally or sublingually. And other CBD oils should never be used in a vape.

    Can I overdose on CBD?

    While most people won’t overdose on CBD, too much of a good thing is possible. Taking too much CBD can manifest in symptoms like fatigue, diarrhea and nausea. Since everyone’s biology is different and CBD hasn’t been around all that long, there’s no definite answer to the overdose question. As always, consult your doctor before taking any type of alternative medicine like CBD.

    How do I figure out my dosage?

    Determining the right dosage can take some time. It depends on symptom severity, the CBD concentration and your physical makeup.

    Tinctures use a marked dropper to measure the amount of CBD in each dose. It’s best to start small and increase slowly until your symptoms decrease. As always, consult your family doctor to determine the most effective dosage for your condition.

    Can I grow my own cannabis at home for personal use?

    Yes, with restrictions. Federal rules limit individuals to growing a maximum of 4 cannabis plants per household (not per person), and they can’t sell any of it. Provinces and territories can choose to impose additional restrictions on this rule. Find out more on the Government of Canada website.

    Can I buy CBD products from outside Canada?

    Non-Canadian retailers that want to sell CBD products to customers living in Canada must comply with Canadian industry regulations, which are stricter than many other countries’ regulations on cannabis products. Though some retailers — like Endoca — can ship to Canada, many don’t because of the regulatory barrier.

    If you’re interested in buying CBD products from a retailer in the US, Europe or elsewhere, make sure you contact the company before placing an order to find out if they can ship to Canada.

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