Kava (NOT) Banned in Canada

The short version is this:  We have clear and definitive information from Health Canada, as well as a personal letter from a high-ranking Health official, that Kona Kava Farm can legally export kava to Canada, as long as it is sold to individuals making purchases for personal consumption!

READ FULL STORY HERE - This is astonishing news!!!

We used to not ship our prized kava to Canada because there was a ban issued on its sale in August of 2002 by Health Canada, although there have been conflicting reports about a change to that law in 2004, making its legal status unclear.  We have tried to contact Health Canada, and we have found several entries in the Natural Health Product Compliance regarding kava.

If you scroll to the bottom of the above page, you will notice that Kava is NOT included in the Prohibited Substances table, but in the "Restricted Substances not in the Food and Drug Regulations" table instead.  Furthermore, in the "Notes" and "Considerations" sections, where adverse reactions and precautions are typically listed, they are blank, making its status even more mysterious.

Before we received this "letter of permission" from Canada to offer our kava to citizens of Canada, the only other clue we were able to secure was from a letter we received a few years ago from the "Natural Health Products Directorate", who said:

Kona Kava Farm -

Please note that there is no ban on kava kava in Canada. While it is a substance for which Health Canada has concerns, before any natural health product (NHP) can be sold commercially in Canada, it must first undergo a pre-market review where it is assessed for safety, efficacy, and quality.

Evidence demonstrating this must be submitted to Health Canada by means of a product license application. Products which meet the required criteria will be authorized for sale and each issued a Natural Product Number (NPN), or in the case of homeopathic medicines, a DIN-HM.

Kava is an acceptable ingredient in the formulation of an NHP - however, appropriate evidence must be submitted in support of its quality, safety and efficacy.

With kind regards,

Natural Health Products Directorate
Direction des produits de santé naturels
Tower/Tour A, Qualicum, AL 3301
2936 rue Baseline Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9.

Although used safely when used correctly for thousands of years, in 2002 Health Canada cited a handful of reports of dangers associated with prolonged kava use. As a result, the Canadian regulatory agency decided to remove all kava-containing products, including the raw herb, from the Canadian market at that time, although few stores complied.  The original government article on the ban from August 21 of 2002 can be found on the Health Advisory page at Health Canada.

As they state on their website: "Health Canada is therefore requiring Canadian manufacturers, distributors and importers to stop the sale of kava-containing products, and is requesting that these products be recalled from all levels of the market. Health Canada is working to identify all importers, manufacturers and distributors of kava-containing products to monitor the removal of these products. Health Canada will also issue a customs alert to prevent further shipments of these products from entering Canada."

So, to be completely clear: Business that are IN Canada are not allowed to import and/or sell kava, period.  BUT, Kona Kava Farm (in sunny Hawaii), can legally and without restriction, export kava products to Canada, as long as we only sell it to PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS. 

We can't wholesale it to any other businesses, but we can ship all the kava we want to our kind neighbors to the North without restriction. Yes, there are still a few health food stores in Canada that are ignoring the ban, or are simply completely unaware of the ban, but Customs officials at the border are aware of the ban, and are sometimes stopping packages that look as though they might contain traces of kava. 

If you want us to keep the package "unmarked" or to state that the contents of your package are different than they actually are, we don't engage in such practices, but there's also no reason to do so.  We've sent kava across the border on many many occasions since we were given permission, and not a single package has been stopped. 

In the past, when enough people make enough noise about an issue, changes can be made. Do the research, study the results of the clinical trials that were conducted in response to the ban, and make a difference. Maybe, just like Germany, in a year or two, you will be free to order this product that has a track record that is safer than aspirin freely in your own country once again.

Until then, we are happy to provide our Canadian neighbors with the richest kava known to exist today! - Aloha no, Makaira