News of Canada’s cannabis legalization on October 17, 2018 made international headlines. Many people have taken the general impression from these headlines that it’s a wide open free for all market. This is mostly because many media articles covered only the basics without going into the specifics of the regulations (e.g. “Cannabis is legal there!”).
The general impression outside of Canada is that now that cannabis is legal, any product derived from the plant can be exported to Canada for sale. This is definitely not the case.
Canada’s Cannabis Legalization Defined
While dried cannabis for recreational use can now be purchased and consumed by any adult, there are limits and restrictions on allowable quantities, packaging, branding, and marketing.
Furthermore, there is a nebulous patchwork of federal, provincial and municipal regulations in play, resulting in a “Wild West” situation where it’s difficult for a producer, marketer, or investor to figure out all the requirements imposed upon them. At the same time, stakeholders are scrambling to capitalize on the “green rush” frenzy and get a foothold in this lucrative space.
The sale of dried cannabis varies not only from province to province, but also within municipalities in any one province. The first hurdle of regulations to clear is municipal, including approvals and zoning. After that comes layers of provincial (for retail) and federal (most classes of licences) regulations.
What Remains Outlawed?
1. CBD: Health Canada added phytocannabinoids to the Human and Veterinary Prescription Drug Lists, effective October 17. This means that these products are only available by prescription. Health Canada will consider removing these compounds from the PDL if they receive sufficient evidence (e.g., through a submission to Health Canada) for safe use under specific conditions.
2. Natural Health Products: The first point means that CBD-containing natural health products (NHPs) will continue to remain illegal in Canada. There are many stakeholders who believe that people using CBD for their health should have the same legal access to CBD-containing NHPs as they do for recreational use products.
One thing is certain: there will be a lot of effort put forth with respect to getting phytocannabinoids removed from the Prescription Drug Lists.
3. Edibles and Concentrates: Cannabis edibles can include oils, baked goods, confectionery items, infused foods, and infused beverages. These products are very popular in American states where cannabis is sold legally for recreational use. However, these types of products remain illegal in Canada at the present time since they are not covered under the Cannabis Act. This entire category has been put “on hold” by Health Canada until October of 2019.
This delay will result in popular edible cannabis products being served by an unregulated black market, the opposite result of what cannabis legalization is intended to do. Unregulated edible cannabis products could lead to considerable food safety issues and other concerns.
dicentra Cannabis Consulting has a team of specialists who can assist you in navigating the complex regulatory sphere resulting from cannabis legalization. We are here to help you make innovative, compliant marketing choices for your products. Contact us to get established in the cannabis space or to take your cannabis business to the next frontier.
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dicentra Cannabis Consulting is committed to keeping you well informed and educated on the Cannabis Act and the Canadian cannabis regulatory framework.