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Health Canada requests feedback on amendments to cannabis regulations

The Cannabis Act (the Act) created a legal framework for the production, distribution, sale, import, export, and possession of cannabis in Canada based on a public health and public safety approach. Key public health and public safety objectives include protecting the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis, establishing a diverse and competitive market with small and large-scale cannabis producers that can displace the illicit market, and providing adults access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis.

To help achieve these objectives, Health Canada strictly regulates activities involving cannabis. Regulatory measures in the CR include

  • licensing to authorize the production and sale of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes;
  • personnel and physical security requirements for license holders;
  • quality control requirements, including good production practices (GPP), contaminant testing, and limits on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content;
  • plain packaging and labeling for cannabis products; and
  • reporting and record-keeping requirements to help track the high-level movement of cannabis throughout the legal supply chain.

A number of policy principles guided the development of the regulatory framework for cannabis. This included risk- and evidence-based requirements informed by the best available science on potential harms and risks posed by cannabis, providing for a broad range of cannabis products to help displace the illicit market, and implementing experiences and lessons learned from other jurisdictions that legalized and regulated cannabis. It also included building on long-standing regulatory frameworks, including industrial hemp, tobacco, food, and cosmetics.

Since the coming into force of the Act and the CR in 2018, the legal cannabis industry has matured, the marketplace has evolved, and there is increased knowledge and data on public health and public safety risks associated with certain activities. Based on the implementation experience gained since the coming into force of the Act, and in keeping with the original policy principles, Health Canada recognizes there may be regulatory measures that could be made more efficient and streamlined without compromising the public health and public safety objectives in the Act.

The proposal
Health Canada is considering potential amendments to the CR that would (1) streamline and clarify existing requirements; (2) eliminate inefficiencies in the regulations, such as duplications between requirements; and (3) reduce administrative and regulatory burdens where possible while continuing to meet the public health and public safety objectives in the Act.

Regulatory amendments would target the following five priority areas:

  1. Licensing;
  2. Personnel and physical security measures;
  3. Production requirements for cannabis products;
  4. Packaging and labeling requirements for cannabis products; and
  5. Record keeping and reporting for cannabis license holders.

This proposal is separate and distinct from the Government of Canada’s legislative review of the Cannabis Act, the objective of which is to review the administration and operation of the Act with a focus on young persons, Indigenous persons, and communities, personal cultivation; along with reviewing access to cannabis for medical purposes.

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