Key Facts From the Canadian Cannabis Act’s 400 Pages of Regulations

Published on July 5, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Canadians have known for a while that legal recreational cannabis would soon become a national fact. But no one knew the precise specifics of the Cannabis Act’s regulations, which contain much of the minutiae and rule-setting that fill in many of the blanks in the federal legislation.

The Canadian government recently released 400 pages (!) of Cannabis Act regulations, covering everything from cultivation, processing, and sales of cannabis flower to the shape and colour of barcodes on cannabis packages. (There can only be one per package, and it must be square and in black and white.) Here are six of the most interesting regulation takeaways.

1. Cannabis Gains ‘Southern’ Access

Orally-consumable cannabis capsules have been available to authorized medical patients for years, but the Cannabis Act is broadening the scope of these products, enabling not just oral products, but also rectal and vaginal suppositories.

2. Industrial Hemp Farmers Can Grow, Sell CBD

Industrial hemp farmers are now legally allowed to take cannabidiol (CBD) produced by their plant and deliver it to a federally-licensed cannabis processor, which in turn can make it into cannabis oils (which can then be used in the now-legal suppositories we just mentioned).

3. Outdoor Commercial Cultivation Is a Go

Prior to the Cannabis Act, commercial cultivation of cannabis could only take place indoors. Health Canada has decided to allow outdoor cultivation, which could lead to decreased production costs and overall lower market prices for consumers.

One hope-bestowing revelation in the regulations: the creation of a new license class for “cannabis pharmaceuticals.”

4. No More Client Labels on Bottles

Licensed medical cannabis patients are used to having their medicine labelled with their full name, shipping date, registration expiry date, and a “separate document” that comes in the form of a paper receipt or card issued with each order. Going forward, this information will not be required.

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Instead, Health Canada will require medical cannabis sellers to give each patient a “registration document” when they sign up, outlining the terms of the prescription and serving as proof of medical authorization.

5. Simple Possession Convictions Can No Longer Bar Industry Participants

If the only blemish on a citizen’s criminal record is a charge of simple possession of a small amount of cannabis, this cannot form the basis of a refusal for a security clearance, which is required for key cannabis-industry personnel. However, past illicit acts with cannabis can be taken into consideration while issuing (or denying) security clearances.

6. New Cannabis Drug Licenses Will Allow for Prescription Cannabis Drugs

One particularly hope-bestowing revelation in the regulations: the creation of a new license class for “cannabis pharmaceuticals.” This will hopefully spur development of cannabis-based prescription medications, which would be exempt from the excise tax, unlike most medical cannabis products. This could also allow cannabis medicines to be assigned drug-identification numbers, which are necessary for a medicine to qualify for insurance coverage.

There are, of course, many other provisions in the thick new rulebook. For example, retailers may sell pre-rolled joints, but these pre-rolls may only contain up to one gram of cannabis. (Lovers of fat blunts will have to roll their own.) A much-feared THC limit on dried cannabis, however, is nowhere to be found.

The regulations will come into force on October 17, 2018.

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Harrison Jordan
Harrison Jordan
Harrison Jordan is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and enjoys reading and writing about the regulatory affairs of cannabis in Canada and around the world.
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