New Guidance by Health Canada for Industrial Hemp Licensing in Canada – A Quick Overview

New Guidance by Health Canada for Industrial Hemp Licensing in Canada – A Quick Overview

November 22, 2018 By

Last month, Health Canada published the Industrial Hemp Licensing Application Guide1 which provides information on the application process and requirements to obtain an industrial hemp licence from Health Canada under the Cannabis Act2 and the Industrial Hemp Regulations3.

For some background information this topic, the Industrial Hemp Regulations indicate the regulatory framework for the control and authorization of activities with industrial hemp, which under these regulations is defined as “a cannabis plant, or any part of the plant, in which the concentration of THC is 0.3% (weight by weight) or less in the flowering heads and leaves”.  With this said, a person has legal obligations to abide in by a) obtaining a licence issued by Health Canada to conduct certain activities with industrial hemp and by b) also being responsible for compliance with the Cannabis Act and its regulations, and other applicable regulations (in the provincial/territorial or municipal sectors) that may apply.

The newly published guide goes into detail for applicants in relation to industrial hemp for the following activities:

  • Cultivation
  • Sale
  • Importation
  • Exportation
  • Cleaning
  • Preparing (conditioning)
  • Processing (including rendering non-viable and producing derivatives/products)

The guide does not, however, address activities relating to application for a licence under the Cannabis Regulations, or post-licensing applications (amendments, or renewals or notifications) for import or export permits, nor any other item that it outside the scope of the Industrial Hemp Regulations.  For example, if cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from flowering heads or leaves, this specific activity would fall under the Cannabis Regulations requiring a cannabis processing license (and not the Industrial Hemp Regulations). Of note, there are different regulatory pathways for making derivatives/products from industrial hemp, depending on the form.  For some examples: producing a viable grain (e.g. hemp protein powder) requires an industrial hemp licence; however, use of roots/root parts does not require an industrial hemp licence; Or, flowering heads/leaves used to extract CBD oil would require a Cannabis processing or cultivation licence, under the Cannabis Regulations.

The guide lays out various activities/scenarios and the requirements for each scenario which is a good starting point for potential applicants interested in opportunities for industrial hemp (see Table 1 of the Industrial Hemp Licensing Application Guide). The guidance document also notes that if a particular proposed activity is not listed in Table 1, then clarification should be made via contacting Health Canada to ensure the appropriate requirement and regulatory pathways is confirmed.

If you are certain that your activity requires an industrial hemp licence, the next steps are to prepare all the information and documented that is required for the licence, before starting the application. Also, Health Canada has indicated that the primary manner for submitting Industrial hemp licences are via the CTLS (Cannabis Tracking and Licencing System), which lists instructions in a separate guide entitled CTLS: User Guide for Industrial Hemp Licence Applications (which you can request a copy of from Health Canada).

You might also be subject to other legal requirements depending on your specific activity/activities, and some examples are provided in the Industrial Hemp Licensing Application Guide. For instance, if your proposed activity involves seed production, you must also be a member of the Canadian Seed Grower’s Association4 and adhere to the requirements for the pedigreed seed production.


The take home message is: make sure to know of what the licencing requirement is (if any) depending on the specific activity you propose to do. For more assistance in assessing if you need an industrial hemp licence or in applying for a licence for activities pertaining to industrial hemp, please be sure to contact dicentra cannabis consulting for assistance and for more information.


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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 which came into force on October 17, 2018. We are committed to providing you with updates, trends, and information in this new regulatory landscape.