High-Level Insight: Consultation Report on Cannabis Regulations Released

This week, the federal government released a summary report from its public consultation on the proposed approach to the regulation of cannabis. The report provides further insight on what regulations to expect, should the Cannabis Act become law later this year. This post summarizes three commitments from the federal government that are outlined in the report.

1. Micro-production licences to be available
Under the proposed Cannabis Act, standard-scale cannabis producers may be licenced for large-scale recreational cannabis production, like those common in the medical cannabis industry. The report indicates an additional licence category will be available for small cannabis producers. The regulations are expected to define micro-scale licences as:

Micro-cultivation licence authorizing the cultivation of a plant canopy area of no more than 200 square metres (approximately 2,150 square feet).
Micro-processing licence authorizing the processing of no more than 600 kilograms of dried cannabis (or equivalent) per year, or the entire output of a single micro-cultivation licence.

The report indicates that that the requirements to obtain a standard or micro production licence will be proportional to the public health and safety risks each category represents.

2. Edibles to be regulated within one year of the Cannabis Act
Currently, the proposed Cannabis Act only allows for the sale of dried cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plants, fresh cannabis, and cannabis seeds. The sale of edibles and other cannabis-based products for non-medical purposes, such as liquid concentrates suitable for vaping, is not permitted under the proposed legislation. The report indicates a commitment from the federal government to put in place necessary regulations to address edibles containing cannabis and cannabis concentrates within one year of the Cannabis Act coming into force. The delayed timeline is to allow for the development of specific regulations to address the unique risks posed by these products.

3. No transition period for packaging and labelling requirements
The report provides information on the label content and labelling requirements that are to be included with the final regulations. These requirements include:

- A standardized cannabis symbol
- Mandatory health warning messages that are to appear on every label
- Information with respect to THC and CBD content, as well as size, placement, and appearance requirements for this information.

The report also indicates that Health Canada does not intend to establish any transition period for non-medical cannabis products. All cannabis products that are sold for non-medical purposes are required to meet the new packaging and labelling requirements immediately on the coming into force of the proposed Cannabis Act.

The federal government remains committed to passing the proposed Cannabis Act in this year. As the timeline for the legalization of cannabis for non-medical purposes draws nearer, local governments are encouraged to consult legal counsel to prepare the regulatory framework that best represents the interests of their communities.

Stefanie Ratjen