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Health Canada Publishes Swathe of Proposed Amendments to Cannabis Act

Last week, Health Canada published a series of proposals for regulatory changes to its federal cannabis programme as part of its ongoing review of its landmark policy.

In March this year, the Canadian government published the final report on its review of the Cannabis Act, which saw it become the ‘first major developed country to legalize and regulate cannabis’ in 2018.

The Cannabis Act stipulated that, due to the wide-ranging implications of moving from prohibition to regulation, it should be reviewed three years after coming into force.

In September 2022, the Minister of Health officially called on an expert panel to conduct a review, with a mandate to assess the act’s economic, social, and environmental impacts, particularly on public health.

Now, as part of a 30-day consultation process ending on July 08, 2024, proposals for changes have been made that align with the findings of this initial report.

These are primarily aimed at protecting public health and safety, while reducing the regulatory and administrative burden placed on businesses operating in the sector and promoting diversity within the market.

The proposals cover five separate priority areas, including:

  1. Licensing:
    • Simplifies the research application process for small cannabis quantities.
    • Increases cultivation and processing limits for micro-cultivation, micro-processing, and nurseries.
    • Expands the number of permitted Quality Assurance Persons (QAPs) and their delegation capabilities.
    • Authorizes the intra-industry sale of cannabis pollen.
    • Eliminates the requirement for printed consumer information documents.
    • Removes the need to list ports of entry and exit on import/export permits.
    • Adds licence suspension grounds for unpaid fees or missing cannabis revenue statements.
  2. Personnel and Physical Security Measures:
    • Removes the requirement for on-site presence of a security-cleared individual.
    • Eases physical security requirements, reducing visual recording and intrusion detection systems where cannabis is not present.
    • Simplifies record-keeping for individuals entering or exiting storage areas.
  3. Production Requirements:
    • Removes the weight limit for discrete units of dried cannabis intended for inhalation.
    • Permits the use of ethyl alcohol in certain cannabis products under strict limits.
  4. Packaging and Labeling Requirements:
    • Simplifies packaging rules, allowing for color differentiation, cut-out windows, and transparent containers for specific cannabis products.
    • Extends co-packing allowances and removes cumulative THC limits for outermost containers of edible cannabis.
    • Allows QR codes on labels and expands accordion or peel-back labels for all package sizes.
    • Standardizes potency labelling to total THC and total CBD, and removes certain redundant labelling requirements.
    • Formalizes temporary pandemic flexibilities related to packaging dates.
  5. Record-Keeping and Reporting:
    • Streamlines record-keeping for substance application and destruction of cannabis.
    • Eliminates the need for notices of new cannabis products for dried and fresh cannabis.
    • Simplifies key investor reporting requirements.
    • Changes the unit of measurement for cannabis plant seeds from kilograms to the number of seeds.

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