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Health Canada finalizes amendments on cannabis research and testing

December 14, 2022
By The Government of Canada

Presented by:

Health Canada has announced that amendments to the Cannabis Act and its regulations concerning cannabis research and testing, and cannabis beverages have been approved and are now in force as of December 2, 2022. A copy of the final regulations, as well as the Regulatory Impact and Analysis Statement is expected to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on December 21, 2022.

These amendments follow extensive engagement with stakeholders, universities, researchers, health authorities, cannabis industry associations, cannabis licence holders, provinces, territories and the public. They aim to facilitate research and testing, and also amend the public possession limit for cannabis beverages to bring them in line with other cannabis products.

Notably, these amendments:

  • Increase the public possession limit for cannabis beverages to a level that is similar to other forms of cannabis, such as solid edible cannabis products (i.e. gummies or chocolate). Adults in Canada are now able to possess up to17.1 litres (equal to 48 cans of 355 ml each) of cannabis beverages in public for non-medical purposes, which is up from approximately 2.1 litres (equal to five cans of 355 ml each) under the previous rules. Existing controls that mitigate the risks of overconsumption and accidental consumption, such as child-resistant packaging and strict limits on the amount of THC per container, remain in place;
  • Change how Health Canada regulates non-therapeutic cannabis research with human participants, helping make the process of conducting this research easier, while still maintaining appropriate public health and safety controls;
  • Allow analytical testing licence holders and federal and provincial government laboratories to produce, distribute and sell reference standards and test kits, to increase access to cannabis testing materials and thereby support access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis; and
  • Broaden the educational qualifications for the Head of Laboratory, a position that is required for an analytical testing licence and is responsible for all cannabis testing activities that occur at the licensed site.

Transition periods are provided to reduce potential impacts on existing research licence holders conducting research with human participants, and on processing licence holders who produce cannabis beverages. The Cannabis Act serves as a flexible legislative framework that adapts and responds to the needs of Canadians.

Health Canada will continue to engage with stakeholders and pursue initiatives to address ongoing and emerging public health and safety issues to improve the cannabis framework so that it meets the needs of Canadians while continuing to displace the illicit market.

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