Health Canada changes cannabis licensing process

May 13, 2019
Written by Health Canada (edited)
All new applicants for licences to cultivate, process, or sell cannabis must now have a fully built site that meets all the requirements of the Cannabis Regulations at the time of their application.

Announced last week, this change in process is meant to help make better use of Health Canada's resources. For example, more than 70% of applicants who successfully passed Health Canada's initial paper-based review of their application over the past three years have not yet submitted their evidence package to demonstrate to the department that they have a built facility that meets the regulatory requirements. As a result, a significant amount of resources are being used to review applications from entities that are not ready to begin operations, contributing to wait times for more mature applications and an inefficient allocation of resources.

For existing applicants, Health Canada will first conduct a high-level review. Once the site has been built and passes regulatory requirements, the application will be reviewed in detail and prioritized based on the original application date.

Since May 2017, Health Canada has licensed more than 129 new cannabis sites, totalling over 600,000 square metres of space under active cultivation. Based on standard industry averages, this is enough cultivation space to produce approximately 1,000,000 kilograms of cannabis per year, which is roughly equivalent to independent estimates of the total cannabis (legal and illegal) consumed in Canada.

There are no changes to the regulatory requirements, including the rigorous security clearance process for key personnel and corporate directors. Furthermore, Health Canada will continue to inspect all facilities before a licence to sell products to the public is issued.

Health Canada will continue to work closely with new and existing licence applicants to ensure that they are aware of the new application requirements.

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