INSIGHTS ON THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY FROM REGULATORY BARRISTER MATTHEW (MATT) LAWSON
Matthew (Matt) Lawson, a UK Regulatory Barrister has penned a series of discussion pieces under the rubric “Insights on the Cannabis Industry”.
In this Part 1 of Insight into the Industry: Cannabis Industry Regulation, barrister Matthew (Matt) Lawson’s looks at the Canadian Regulatory Framework.
The Regulator of Canada’s medical and adult-use cannabis market is Health Canada. Companies who wish to extract cannabis and manufacture cannabis-derived products, whether in the medical or adult-use arena, need to obtain the licences to do so under the Cannabis Act. Depending on the scale of the operation, companies either apply for a standard processing licence (industrial scale) or a micro-processing licence (small scale). A licence fee is payable: for a micro-processing licence the minimum fee is around CA$2,500 per annum and a minimum of CA$23,000 for standard licence.
Under a processing licence companies are able to extract, infuse, package and label cannabis products, allowing holders to sell finished and bulk products to medical and to any other licence holders (processors, analytical testers, researchers, cannabis drug licence holders.
Prior to the grant of either licence, it is a prerequisite that a production-ready facility has been built, inspected and assessed by Health Canada and that the businesses have a quality assurance officer who is responsible and qualified to assess certificates of analysis, laboratory sample reports and the oversee the final release of the product. The quality assurance officer needs to have knowledge and expertise related to the requirements of Good Production Practices (GPP) and the attributable Cannabis Regulations.
The processing licence holders are allowed to manufacture cannabis products which can be sold on to other clients, but they are not permitted to cultivate cannabis for which a standard or micro-cultivation licence is required. Extractors who wish to sell medical cannabis products to registered clients are also required to hold a Sale for Medical Purposes licence.
In comparison to many other countries, the extraction of CBD in Canada is regulated under the Cannabis Act, thus extractors of CBD, although it is derived from hemp, must hold the same processing licence as the producers of adult-use cannabis extracts, because the Cannabis Act does not distinguish between CBD derived from industrial hemp or cannabis. Therefore, CBD can only be sold, processed, distributed, exported and imported by licensed permit holders.
Matthew (Matt) Lawson is a UK Barrister who has advised Governments and Corporations for over 25 years in respect of human impactors – Food & Ingestibles, Medicines, Medical Devices and inhalation mediums. He provides worldwide Cannabis advice to clients who stem from Governments, to some of the largest multinational CPG corporations, to pharmaceutical giants, through to niche pre-IPO Start-Ups in the CPG and medical fields.