The Long-Awaited Legalization of Cannabis in Canada

The Long-Awaited Legalization of Cannabis in Canada

Posted: Tuesday October 16th, 2018

Author: Pinky Mazumder 

On October 17th, 2018, the long-awaited legalization of cannabis will come into effect.  Cannabis will no longer be subject to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations will be repealed. Moving forward, cannabis will be regulated by the Cannabis Act (the “Act”) and its subordinate legislation, the Cannabis Regulations (the “Regulations”) [1].

On April 13th, 2017, the proposed Cannabis Act was introduced through Bill C-45. Following a lengthy consultation process and Senate review, the Act received Royal Assent on June 21st, 2018. [2, 3].  The Regulations were published in Part II of the Canada Gazette following Royal Assent of the Act, and will come into force along with the Act on October 17th, 2018 [1]. The Regulations comprise sixteen parts, including provisions on licensing, security clearances, physical security measures, good production practices, packaging and labelling, and reporting and disclosure [4].

The various licencing categories under the Act and Regulations are a major component of the legalisation scheme.  There are six types of licences: cultivation, processing, sale, analytical testing, research, and the Cannabis Drug License. Licensed cultivators are permitted to cultivate, harvest, package, label, and sell the plants and seeds to other licensed sellers and distributors. For drug products containing cannabis, a Cannabis Drug Licence is required and will apply in addition to any obligations imposed by the Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations [5].

The new regulatory scheme also imposes various advertising and marketing restrictions. For one, packaged cannabis products must utilize plain packaging with restrictions and requirements on the logos and colours used on the package along with requirements for mandatory health warnings and the standardized cannabis symbol [1, 6]. For cannabis products containing more than 10 micrograms/gram of THC, the Standardized Cannabis Symbol must be displayed on the packaging:

pictureFor more information on the Cannabis Act and Regulations, please see the Reference section below.  

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1.      Regulations to Support coming into force of the Cannabis Act – Health Canada

2.      Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis – Health Canada 

 3.      Bill C-45 Royal Assent

 4.      Cannabis Regulations SOR/2018-144

5.      Canada Gazette Part II, Vol. 152, No. 14, Page 2802 

6.      Standardized Cannabis Symbol – Health Canada