Amendment of the Cannabis Act

Currently, the categories of cannabis that can be legally sold by holders of a federal licence and by distributors and retailers authorized by a province or territory are dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plants, and the seeds of cannabis plants. However, the federal government recently confirmed its intention to amend the Cannabis Actin order to authorize the sale of three new categories of cannabis.

The three new categories are:

  • edible cannabis (products containing cannabis and intended to be ingested by eating or drinking);
  • cannabis extracts (products that are produced using extraction processing methods or by synthesizing phytocannabinoids);
  • cannabis topicals (products that include cannabis as an ingredient and are intended to be used on external body surfaces).

Authorized persons will be able to create and commercialize a wide variety of products falling within these new categories by October 17, 2019.

Amendment of the Cannabis Regulations

In conjunction with the addition of these new cannabis categories, the federal government published in December 2018 a draft regulation that is to come into force by October 17, 2019, which will amend the current Cannabis Regulations setting out the rules and standards applicable to the production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis (except for industrial hemp).

The amended regulation will establish new control measures to address the public health and safety risks associated with these new categories. In particular, a processing licence will be required in order to manufacture, package or label edible cannabis, cannabis extracts or cannabis topicals.

Among the contemplated measures, it is proposed that a past conviction (within the last ten years) for an offence under the Safe Food for Canadians Act will be a ground for the refusal or revocation of a processing licence. In addition, licence holders will have to conduct a product recall simulation at least once every 12 months to assess the effectiveness of their recall systems and processes.

The draft regulation also contains new rules governing the production of cannabis products, which include THC limits as well as restrictions on product composition and ingredients.

Licensed processors who intend to sell these new products must apply to Health Canada to demonstrate that they meet all of the regulatory requirements for these new categories of cannabis.

We encourage you to contact one of the members of our specialized cannabis group if you have any questions regarding the foregoing.