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Proposed amendments to Cannabis Regulations make it easier to be green

Kevin Landry and Nikolas Shymko

Health Canada has recently proposed a number of amendments to the Cannabis Regulations and other regulations concerning cannabis research and testing, and cannabis beverages. Until April 25, 2022, Health Canada will be accepting comments on the proposed Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Concerning Cannabis Research and Testing and Cannabis Beverages and Order to Amend Schedule 3 published in Canada Gazette, Part I on March 12, 2022.

The proposed amendments are as follows:

(1) Non-therapeutic research on cannabis permitted

Proposed amendments to the Cannabis Exemption (Food and Drugs Act) Regulations would create an exemption from the application of the Food and Drugs Act for certain non-therapeutic research on cannabis.

Non-therapeutic research on cannabis includes research involving the distribution of cannabis to human participants subject to certain exceptions, including: research related to the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease, disorder or abnormal physical state or its symptoms.

Non-therapeutic research would exclude any research involving the participation of young persons.

(2) Reference standards and test kits

Currently, only licensed processors are able to sell reference standards and produce test kits, which potentially limits their availability and variety.

Proposed amendments would authorize analytical testers and government laboratories to produce, distribute, and sell reference standards, as well as to produce test kits.

(3) Head of laboratory

Proposed amendments to the Cannabis Regulations would alter the qualifications required for a person to become head of laboratory. It would expand the eligible credentials to include a diploma, certificate or credential from a Canadian post-secondary educational institution in a field or occupation relevant to the duties of the head of laboratory position. It would also expand the recognition of international credentials for this position. The proposed amendments would permit accepting equivalency assessments issued by organizations or institutions designated by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada or recognized by a province.

(4) Cannabis beverages

The Cannabis Act currently sets a public possession limit of 30 grams of dried cannabis or its “equivalent” for other forms of cannabis as established pursuant to Schedule 3 of the Cannabis Act.

Proposed amendments will create two new classes of cannabis, namely: cannabis beverages and non-solids containing cannabis, other than beverages. This amendment would increase the equivalency for cannabis beverages to 570 grams, as opposed to the current 70 grams. As a result, the amount of cannabis beverages that an adult could possess in public would be equivalent to 48 standard-sized beverage cans (48 × 355 mL cans).

To reduce the impact of these changes on the industry, the proposed regulations would provide a 12-month transition period allowing all licence holders and persons authorized to distribute or sell edible cannabis products to distribute or sell cannabis beverages that have been packaged and labelled in accordance with the current requirements under the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations. Following the transition period, all cannabis beverages distributed and sold by holders of a licence for processing would be required to include a public possession limit statement that is reflective of this proposed amendment, whilst other authorized persons could continue to sell previously labelled and packaged products to sell or distribute their existing inventory of these products.

This client update is provided for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about the above, please contact a member of our Cannabis group.


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