New Canadian Cannabis Regulations for Second Wave of Cannabis Products

Health Canada has released the amendments to the Cannabis Regulations to control the legal production and sale of cannabis edibles, extracts, and topicals. The Regulations will come into force on October 17, 2019, in substantially the same form as the draft regulations published by Health Canada in December 2018. The following information sets out a brief overview of certain of the relevant changes regarding the second wave of cannabis products in Canada.

Edible Cannabis

Ingredients:

  • Restricting the use of ingredients that could: (i) increase the appeal of edible cannabis, (ii) increase the risk of food-borne illness, and (iii) encourage over-consumption
  • Health Canada officials have indicated that whether a product is appealing to youth will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account factors such as shape, colour, branding, packaging and overall presentation

THC Content:

  • Placing a limit of 10 mg on the amount of THC that can be in either a package of edible cannabis or a container of cannabis beverage.

Packaging and Branding:

  • Requiring child-resistant and plain packaging for edible cannabis to lower the risk of accidental consumption and make packages less appealing to young persons.
  • The label will need to display the standardized cannabis symbol and a health warning message.
  • It will be prohibited to make any claims respecting health benefits or nutrition on the label
  • The Regulations also prohibit the use of brand elements that would associate the product with alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or vaping products. This prohibition would appear to restrict the use of known alcohol, tobacco or vape brands on cannabis products. Health Canada has suggested that this prohibition would also restrict the use of terms generally associated with alcoholic beverages, such as “cannabis beer” or “cannabis wine.”

Manufacturing Controls:

  • Putting in place strict new manufacturing controls for the production of edible cannabis to reduce the risk of food-borne illness and to control the quality of products

Production Facilities:

  • Prohibiting the production of food and cannabis in the same facility to ensure the safety and integrity of Canada’s food system

Cannabis Extracts

Ingredients:

  • Prohibiting the use of certain ingredients that could appeal to young persons, such as sweeteners and colourants, or ingredients that could increase the appeal of cannabis extracts

THC Content:

  • Placing a limit on the amount of THC that could be in a unit of a cannabis extract—such as a capsule—of 10 mg. The total amount of THC in a package of a cannabis extract is capped at 1,000 mg (e.g., 100 10‑mg capsules)

Packaging and Branding:

  • Requiring child-resistant and plain packaging for cannabis extracts. All packages, as well as certain pre-filled accessories, such as vape pens, are required to display the standardized cannabis symbol. Packages are also required to display a health warning message
  • Prohibiting certain flavours that are appealing to young persons from being displayed on a product label, consistent with rules for vaping products
  • Prohibiting any claims respecting health benefits on the label
  • The Regulations also prohibit the use of brand elements that would associate the product with alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or vaping products. This prohibition would appear to restrict the use of known alcohol, tobacco or vape brands on cannabis products

Manufacturing Controls:

  • Putting in place strict new manufacturing controls for the production of cannabis extracts to control the quality of the products

Cannabis Topicals

Ingredients:

  • Restricting the use of certain types of ingredients

THC Content:

  • Placing a limit of 1,000 mg of THC in each package of a cannabis topical

Packaging and Branding:

  • Requiring child-resistant and plain packaging for cannabis topicals. All packaging is required to display the standardized cannabis symbol and a health warning message
  • Prohibiting any claims respecting health or cosmetic benefits on the label
  • The Regulations also prohibit the use of brand elements that would associate the product with alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or vaping products. This prohibition would appear to restrict the use of known alcohol, tobacco or vape brands on cannabis products.

Manufacturing Controls:

  • Putting in place strict new manufacturing controls for the production of cannabis topicals to control the quality of the products

Even though the amended regulations will take effect on October 17, 2019, it will take time before new cannabis products become available for purchase. Federally licensed processors will need time to become familiar with and prepare to comply with the new rules and to produce new products. Provincially or territorially authorized distributors and retailers will need time to purchase and obtain the new products and make them available for sale. As such, adult consumers should expect to see a limited selection of new products appear gradually in physical or online stores, and likely no earlier than mid-December 2019.

In order to sell new products, federally licensed processors will need to seek an amendment to their licence and attest that all of the regulatory requirements specific to the new cannabis products have been met before being authorized to sell them. Consistent with the Cannabis Regulations in force now, licensed processors will also need to provide Health Canada with a written notice at least 60 days before making a new cannabis product available for sale. The notice must state the product class to which the new product belongs, describe the product (including the brand name), and indicate the date on which the product is expected to be made available for sale.

Health Canada does not approve cannabis products before they are made available for sale, but it may verify compliance of the proposed products with the regulations following these notifications. Licensed processors continue to be responsible for making sure that any new product meets all the requirements set out in the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Regulations.

Health Canada will begin approving amendments to federal licences to authorize the production and sale of the new products and reviewing notifications for the new products when the amended regulations come into force on October 17, 2019.

If you have questions about the new cannabis regulations, please contact a member of our Cannabis Practice Group.

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