Health Canada Launches Public Consultation on Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis

Online consultations open for 60 days

November 2017 – Ottawa, ON – Government of Canada

The current approach to cannabis does not work. Earlier this year, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-45, the proposed Cannabis Act, to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis. Bill C-45 aims to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth and the profits away from criminals and organized crime.

Today, Health Canada launched a public consultation on the proposed regulatory approach for the proposed Cannabis Act. This approach builds on the extensive consultations already conducted by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation and on Canada’s existing system of regulated production of cannabis for medical purposes and industrial hemp. The proposed regulatory approach prioritizes protecting the health and safety of Canadians while enabling a competitive legal industry made up of large and small enterprises in all regions of the country to produce quality-controlled cannabis.

All Canadians and interested stakeholders are invited to share their views on the proposed regulatory approach online until January 20, 2018. Health Canada welcomes written submissions or input provided online.

The public consultation seeks input on the proposed regulatory approach, including licensing, security requirements for producers and their facilities, product standards and labelling and packaging, access to cannabis for medical purposes, and health products containing cannabis. The proposal is outlined in detail in the consultation paper: Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis.

The Government of Canada has been working closely with the provinces and territories and has engaged Indigenous partners and stakeholders. In addition to the online consultation, Health Canada welcomes feedback from the provinces and territories and will continue to meet with provincial and territorial governments, work with Indigenous partners, and hold dedicated discussions with stakeholders.

Furthermore, the Canadian Society of Forensic Science Drugs and Driving Committee (DDC) has released its evaluation standards for oral fluid drug screening devices in Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency launched its own consultation to align relevant immigration regulations with the coming into force of the Cannabis Act.


“Our Government is taking a public health approach to legalizing, strictly regulating and restricting access to cannabis. This proposed regulatory approach is informed by the extensive consultations to date, and it supports our overarching goal of protecting public health and safety. We look forward to hearing the views of Canadians from across the country.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“The current approach to cannabis is not working. We believe that our proposed regulatory approach will help us keep cannabis away from kids and keep profits from criminals and organized crime. I encourage all interested Canadians to share their views with us.”

Bill Blair
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Quick Facts

  • At the end of this 60-day consultation period, Health Canada intends to publish a summary of the comments received as well as a detailed outline of any changes to the regulatory proposal, which will continue to provide industry and stakeholders with as much information as possible on the proposed regulatory requirements.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to working with Indigenous communities. It has begun discussions and will continue to exchange information on the proposed legislation and associated regulatory approach. Working with Indigenous peoples will help Health Canada and the Government gain an understanding of Indigenous perspectives, address key areas of interest, and collaborate on effective public education and communications.
  • The Government of Canada has announced an investment of $46M over the next 5 years to ensure that a robust public education, awareness and surveillance program is in place to inform Canadians of the health and safety risks of cannabis use.
  • In addition to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis, the Government is toughening laws around alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. Under the Government’s proposed legislation, Bill C-46, new offences would be added to the Criminal Code to enforce a zero tolerance approach for those driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. Additionally, the proposed legislation would authorize new tools for police to better detect drivers who have drugs in their body. On September 8, 2017, the Government announced that it had committed up to $161 million for training frontline officers in how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving, building law enforcement capacity across the country and providing access to drug screening devices. As part of this funding, provinces and territories will be able to access up to $81 million over five years for new law enforcement training, and building capacity to enforce new and stronger laws related to drug-impaired driving.
  • Once oral fluid drug screening devices have been assessed against the standards, the Canadian Society of Forensic Science Drugs and Driving Committee will make a recommendation to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada who will consider the advice and decide whether to make a Ministerial Order listing the drug screening equipment for use by law enforcement.
  • The Government of Canada announced up to $274 million to support law enforcement and border efforts to detect and deter drug-impaired driving and enforce the proposed cannabis legalization and regulation. This includes funding to acquire drug screening devices.

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Backgrounder: Highlights of the Proposed Regulatory Framework for Cannabis

November 2017

The Government of Canada intends to bring the proposed Cannabis Act into force no later than July 2018, subject to the approval of Parliament. To meet this commitment, the final regulations will need to be published as soon as possible following Royal Assent. As such, it is important that stakeholders provide input on the proposed regulatory approach during this 60‑day consultation period as draft regulations will not be pre-published.

This backgrounder provides an overview of key regulatory proposals to support the implementation of the proposed Cannabis Act. The full details are outlined in a consultation paper. Stakeholders and Canadians who are interested in participating in the consultation are encouraged to review the full consultation paper and share their views by January 20, 2018. This new consultation builds on the extensive consultations conducted by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. Comments received from this consultation will be carefully reviewed, and the feedback will inform the development of the regulations. To meet the Government’s commitment to bringing the proposed Cannabis Act into force no later than July 2018, subject to Parliamentary approval, the final regulations will be published in Canada Gazette, Part II before July 2018.

Under the proposed Cannabis Act, the federal government would be responsible for regulating cannabis production. The provinces and territories would be responsible for regulating its distribution and sale, subject to minimum federal conditions. The federal government continues to engage and share information with the provinces and territories in a number of key areas, including public education and awareness, drug-impaired driving, taxation, and aspects of implementation, including supply of legal cannabis and the cannabis tracking system.

Licences, Permits and Authorizations

The intent of the proposed system of licences, permits and authorizations is to allow for a range of activities with cannabis (e.g., cultivation, processing and research). It is also intended to enable a diverse, competitive legal industry made up of both large and small companies in regions across the country to produce quality-controlled cannabis. It would ensure that legal cannabis products meet high quality standards while reducing the risk that organized crime could infiltrate the legal industry.

The proposed regulations would:

  • Establish different types of authorizations based on the activity being undertaken (e.g., cultivation or processing), and in some cases, the scale of the activity (e.g., standard versus micro-cultivation).
  • Set out rules and requirements for authorized activities that are proportional to the public health and safety risks associated with each type of activity.

Security Clearances

Security clearances would be required for employees who hold key positions with access to sensitive security or business information, as well as directors and officers of the organization and any parent company and major shareholders.  Regulatory proposals pertaining to personnel security have been developed to mitigate the risks that individuals associated with organized crime could infiltrate licensed organizations and use their position to conduct illegal activities with cannabis to the benefit of criminal organizations.

The regulations would enable the Minister to refuse to grant security clearances to individuals with associations to organized crime and with past convictions of, or an association with, drug trafficking, corruption or violent offences. In making decisions, the Minister would take into account information provided by an applicant, a criminal record check and a law enforcement record check. Each application would be assessed on a case-by-case basis and on its own merits. This is the approach that is in place today under the existing regulations governing the federally licensed production of cannabis for medical purposes.

Health Canada acknowledges that there are individuals with a history of non-violent, lower-risk activities (e.g., simple possession or small-scale cultivation of cannabis). Some of these individuals may seek to obtain a security clearance to participate in the legal cannabis industry. Part of the purpose of this consultation is to seek feedback regarding the degree to which these individuals should be permitted to participate in the legal cannabis industry. The Minister of Health would have final authority over the granting of security clearances.

Cannabis Tracking System

The proposed Cannabis Act would authorize the Minister of Health to establish and maintain a national Cannabis Tracking System, to track cannabis throughout the supply chain. This would help prevent diversion of cannabis into, and out of, the legal market. It is proposed that any person authorized to conduct activities with cannabis, whether federally or at the provincial or territorial level, would be required to report into the system. Exceptions would be provided for industrial hemp and certain lower-risk research and development activities. The tracking system would be a data collection tool that would show inventory, production levels, as well as bulk movements across the supply chain. The tracking system would not require the reporting of any personal information about consumers who purchase cannabis at the retail level.

Cannabis Products

The initial regulations would permit the production and sale of dried cannabis, cannabis oil, fresh cannabis, cannabis plants and cannabis seeds to people who are 18 years of age and over. The production and sale of edibles and concentrates to people who are 18 years of age and over would be enabled within one year following the coming into force of the proposed Act.

It is proposed that the regulations would establish rules and standards for the production of cannabis products, and would seek to:

  • Provide adults with access to quality-controlled cannabis products of known potency.
  • Enable the sale of a range of products to help the legal industry displace the illegal market.
  • Reduce the appeal of cannabis products to youth.
  • Reduce the risk of accidental consumption of cannabis by young persons.

Packaging and Labelling

It is proposed that the regulations would set out requirements for the packaging and labelling of cannabis products. The proposed packaging and labelling requirements would promote informed consumer choice and allow for the safe handling and transportation of cannabis. All cannabis products would need to be packaged in a manner that is tamper-evident and child-resistant.

Health Canada is proposing strict limits on the use of colours, graphics and other special characteristics of packaging to curtail the appeal of these products to youth. To ensure that consumers make informed decisions and to avoid misuse, products would be required to be labelled with specific information about the product (such as the THC and CBD content of the product, and the product weight or volume), be labelled with the statement “Keep out of the reach of children,” contain mandatory health warnings similar to those on tobacco products, and be marked with a clearly recognizable standardized THC symbol.

Cannabis for Medical Purposes

The proposed regulations would maintain a distinct system to provide patients with access to cannabis for medical purposes. With the support of a health care practitioner, patients would continue to be able to purchase from a federally licensed seller of cannabis for medical purposes, produce their own cannabis or designate someone to grow cannabis on their behalf.

The proposed medical access regulatory framework would remain substantively the same as it currently exists, with proposed adjustments to improve patient access, reduce the risk of abuse of the system, and create consistency with the rules for non-medical use.

Health Products and Cosmetics Containing Cannabis

In keeping with the objectives of the proposed Cannabis Act to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis, and the health and safety mandate of the Food and Drugs Act, a coordinated regulatory approach is proposed for human and veterinary health products containing cannabis that are authorized by Health Canada to be safe, effective and of high quality.

Manufacturers are currently allowed, and would continue to be allowed, to file new drug submissions for prescription drugs containing cannabis. They can also seek authorization for medical devices intended for use in consuming cannabis for medical purposes. It is proposed that the use of cannabis in non-prescription drugs and natural health products would be permitted. For natural health products, a strict limit of no more than 10 ppm THC is proposed.

Health Canada would also work with the provinces and territories on options to control the sale and display of health products with cannabis to youth.

The use of cannabis-derived products in cosmetics is currently prohibited with the exception of hemp seed derivatives containing no more than 10 ppm THC, which are permitted. Under the proposed Cannabis Act, cosmetics containing currently prohibited cannabis-derived ingredients would be subject to provisions of the proposed Act.

Source:  Health Canada