Record of proceedings for the Science Advisory Committee on Health Products Containing Cannabis (SAC-HPCC): December 10, 2021

List of acronyms

Health Canada Directorates and Branches

December 10, 2021, 2:00pm-5:00pm Eastern Time

Welcome and introductory remarks

The Committee Co-Chairs, Dr. Paula Brown and Dr. Richard Huntsman, welcomed members to the meeting. The Committee Secretariat from the Policy, Planning and International Affairs Directorate (PPIAD) and representatives from the Therapeutic Products Directorate (TPD), Veterinary Drugs Directorate (VDD) and Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD) of the Health Products and Food Branch (HPFB) were in attendance, as well as members from the Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch (CSCB). The external expert writer was also present.

The Co-Chairs provided a description of the meeting’s agenda and a brief overview of the first draft of the Committee’s report, which was shared with members in advance of the meeting.

Administrative items

The Secretariat sought member updates to Conflict of Interest (COI) declarations ahead of the meeting and, as an additional reminder, the Co-Chairs invited members to provide any new declarations of affiliations and interests to the external COI advisor. Information shared did not restrict member participation.

The Co-Chairs sought approval of the Record of Proceedings (RoPs) from the Committee’s November 5 meeting, as well as the agenda for the present meeting. Members approved these documents with no objections.

Committee review and discussion of the first draft of the Committee’s report

Facilitators: Committee Co-Chairs

During this main part of the meeting, Committee members reviewed the draft of the first sections of their report, which focused on the Committee’s first mandate objective: the safety, efficacy and quality of cannabidiol (CBD) when used for therapeutic purposes in humans and for use in animals.

Committee members reviewed the structure and outline of each section, provided input and discussed key points for which more information was required. Topics discussed by members included potential drug-drug interactions involving CBD, and quality considerations for potential health products containing CBD.

The Subcommittee on Animal Health provided an update on their progress to the full Committee, as well as an overview of the points of consensus they reached throughout the year.

Committee discussion on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other non-CBD phytocannabinoids

Facilitator: Dr. Richard Huntsman

Dr. Huntsman guided the last portion of the meeting, which focused on a review of the current state of the evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of THC and other non-CBD phytocannabinoids.

The committee began by discussing the intoxicating and addictive properties of THC. The potential effects of even low doses of THC, including impairment, were also mentioned. Members shared that there is a lot of research demonstrating the toxicity of THC, but very little scientific evidence regarding its potential efficacy.

All members were in agreement that an intoxicating compound, such as THC, would not be appropriate to be used without practitioner oversight.

Phytocannabinoids other than CBD and THC were also a point of discussion. Members noted that there is very little evidence currently available regarding the safety and efficacy of these other phytocannabinoids.

There was agreement that non-intoxicating phytocannabinoids may be appropriate to consider for use in the self-care framework in the future, when sufficient safety, efficacy and quality data is available. The committee also discussed the possibility to consider other non-intoxicating components of the cannabis plant, such as terpinoids, in the self-care framework as evidence evolves.

Wrap up and next steps

Presenter: Dr. Paula Brown

The Co-Chairs thanked members for their active participation, discussed the next steps for the Committee and adjourned the meeting.

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