Proposed Amendments to Canada's Cannabis Act

Edibles, Dealer's Licenses and a Sunset Clause Under Consideration

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health (Standing Committee) has proposed amendments to the pending Cannabis Act (Bill C-45)1. If enacted, Bill C-45 will legalize the production, distribution and sale of cannabis for recreational use in Canada2. The target enactment date is July 1, 2018.3

What You Need To Know

The key proposals of the Standing Committee include the following:

  • Edibles and cannabis concentrates. "Edibles containing cannabis" and "cannabis concentrates" would be added to the classes of cannabis an authorized person may sell.
  • Sale of edibles. Sale of edibles and cannabis concentrates would be set for implementation within a year of the Cannabis Act coming into force (as opposed to the date on which the Act comes into force). This means edibles and cannabis concentrates would be available for sale on July 1, 2019 (using July 1, 2018 as the target enactment date).
  • Dealer's licenses for cannabis. Dealer's licenses are one way to legally conduct research on cannabis and cannabis germplasm. The proposed amendments would clarify that an application for (i) a Dealer's Licence under s. 9.2 of the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR), (ii) a licence under s. 67 of the NCR to cultivate, gather or produce cannabis for scientific purposes, and (iii) an import or export permit under s. 10 of the NCR, will be deemed to be an application made under the Cannabis Act, so that licensing and permit requirements are 'merged' under the same legislation.
  • Sunset clause. The Minister would be required to review the Act and its administration and operation three years after it comes into force.
  • Medical emergency exemption. The proposed amendments would create an exemption from criminal offences to persons who seek emergency medical or law enforcement assistance due to a person suffering from a medical emergency if incriminating evidence is obtained as a result of seeking assistance. A person is deemed to suffer from a "medical emergency" if he/she causes a life-threatening situation by introducing psychoactive substances (e.g., cannabis) into the body. This exemption applies to both the person suffering from a medical emergency and those who remain at the scene upon the arrival of assistance.

What's Next

The House of Commons will vote on the inclusion of the Standing Committee's amendments into the draft legislation. If accepted, the Bill will then undergo a third reading within the House of Commons before proceeding to the Senate. Although not guaranteed, the House of Commons generally accepts amendments made by a House Standing Committee.

July 1, 2018 remains the target implementation date for cannabis legalization. We will provide you with updates to the legalization process as they become available.

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1 See: http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/HESA/report-12/.

2 Medical use of cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001. The proposed Cannabis Act would legalize recreational use. We have previously reported on the proposed legislation released on April 13, 2017; See: Breaking Ground: Canada's Cannabis Framework; Cannabis Legalization and the Workplace; Monopoly on Cannabis: Ontario's Plan for Retail Sales; Governments Turn to Public to Develop Cannabis Laws.

3 See: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/campaigns/legalizing-strictly-regulating-cannabis-facts.html.

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This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this publication with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.

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