Health Canada announced that it is introducing changes to its cannabis licensing requirements in order to align them with the licensing approach for other regulated sectors.
More specifically, Health Canada will now require new cannabis cultivators, processors, and dispensaries that are applying for licenses to have a fully-constructed site that also meets Cannabis Regulations criteria at the time of application. This is in addition to them satisfying previously set requirements.
What about pending applications?
For those applications that have already been submitted prior to this change of requirements but are still not approved, Health Canada said that these will be subjected to a high-level review.
If an application passes this evaluation, the department will provide the applicant with a status update letter. Once the applicant is able to show a completed site meeting all the regulatory criteria, the department will proceed to review the application in detail. This second round of evaluation will be conducted in priority based on the original date of application.
Why these adjustments?
Health Canada decided to implement these changes to its licensing process after they identified opportunities for the better allocation of resources. For instance, there are more than 70 percent of applicants that have successfully passed the department’s initial paper-based evaluation over the past three years. However, these applicants have not yet submitted an evidence package demonstrating that they have a physical facility meeting the regulatory requirements. This results to the department utilizing a significant amount of resources to review applications from businesses that are not yet ready to start their operations. This contributes to longer wait times for more mature applications.
In order to support applicants, Health Canada is providing additional guidance regarding the license application process. There will also be guidance on the regulatory requirements pertaining to Good Production Practices, as well as to physical security measures.
Additionally, Health Canada is working to set up service standards for the evaluation of applications. These service standards will increase predictability for license applicants.
Enhanced support is still going to be provided to indigenous-affiliated applications via Health Canada’s Indigenous Navigator Service. Additional measures will also be implemented to support those applying for micro-class license.