Canadians should have over the counter access to cannabidiol (CBD) as a natural health product, according to a new campaign from the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA).

The campaign aims to make the regulation of CBD as a natural health product an election issue, calling on all parties to create a regulatory pathway that would allow the sale of CBD in natural health products.

“Quite frankly in many ways it’s easier to get high and harder to get well. That doesn’t make sense,” Dan Demers, vice president of government relations and regulatory affairs at the CFHA, said during a press conference Tuesday.

The non-intoxicating extract, most commonly sold as an oil, has been promoted as a natural aid for managing pain, anxiety and insomnia, despite limited research.

Under the current regulation, CBD products are only available from authorized recreational cannabis retailers, or through medical access with a doctor’s note.

Natural health providers argue that the current regulations prevent Canadian consumers from accessing the proposed benefits of CBD, promoting the sale of unregulated products online.

“My customers are forced to try to meet their health needs through either purchasing products through the black market, over the internet through the United States, or through recreational cannabis stores,” Robert Assaf, co-owner of Ottawa-based Kardish Health Food Centre, said during the press conference.

“I’m frustrated by the fact that I’m essentially handcuffed from providing products that my customers want and can access through other channels.”

The CHFA argues that thanks to Canada’s strict regulatory process for approving natural health products, allowing the sale of CBD as a natural health product would allow for more research into the safe use of CBD and its potential health benefits.

“What we’re asking the government to do is tell us that you will allow us to sell CBD natural health products providing we have the evidence to back it up,” explained Demers.