Government in Canada Proposes Amendments to Cannabis Law, Lifting Burdens

Government in Canada Proposes Amendments to Cannabis Law, Lifting Burdens

Several amendments to Canada’s cannabis laws aim to ease some of the burdens that producers and distribution companies face.

The Canadian government is proposing a series of amendments to federal cannabis regulations ranging from packaging to reporting requirements, all part of an effort to help ease the regulatory burden cannabis businesses in the country face. It would allow, among many other things, for producers to contain individual packages in bulk outer packaging.

CTV News reports that a raft of changes are expected as a push to fix several problems burdening cannabis producers remains a priority. Health Canada indicated that the amendments are expected to return about $41 million in annualized net benefits in terms of administrative and compliance cost savings. The amendments remove problematic regulations that make it more difficult to market cannabis. 

Changes to Canada’s Cannabis Act include an Order Amending Schedule 2 to the Cannabis Act, and a second Order Amending the Cannabis Tracking System Order (Cultivation Waste).

Changes to the Cannabis Act and Food and Drugs Act included Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Concerning Cannabis (Streamlining of Requirements).

“Health Canada recognizes that there may be regulatory measures that could be made more efficient and streamlined without compromising the public health and public safety objectives,” a representative of Health Canada said.

Proposed amendments including packaging changes, such as allowing the lids and containers of cannabis products to display different colors, allowing cut-out windows or transparent packaging, and allowing QR codes on packaging so buyers are able to find more information.

Producers would also be allowed to package multiple products together as long as the package is still under the 30-gram limit, and products inside also meet packaging requirements. The change would mean producers could sell higher quantities of edibles in one single, outer package.

Images or information on the packaging would still not be allowed, for the most part, but images would be exempt if other statutes require it, such as the recycling icon.

The changes mean that producers no longer have to provide paper copies of information sheets to retailers, wouldn’t have to submit a notice to the government on every new dried or fresh cannabis product they want to sell, and the sale and distribution of cannabis pollen would be allowed. Producers also wouldn’t be required to report annually on promotional efforts, and would no longer need to report on cultivation waste.

The changes aim to ease some of the problems the industry is grappling with. This includes bankruptcies and market consolidation following legalization in 2018.

The problems impacting the industry were identified earlier. Canada’s oversupply of cannabis led to $53.7 million unsold cannabis products last December.

A group organized by the federal government to study Canada’s cannabis laws earlier this year made 54 recommendations. The updates that range from packaging and labeling rule changes to a review of the excise taxes imposed on cannabis producers.

Cannabis Sales Impact Alcohol Sales in Canada

Cannabis and alcohol are highly regulated, and sales of the two impact one another.

A study conducted in Canada and recently published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence shows that beer sales have declined since cannabis sales rolled out in the country in 2018. The study was conducted by researchers associated with the College Pharmacy at the University of Manitoba, School of Pharmacy at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto.

The study, which was published last February, shows that beer sales in Canada have dropped significantly. “Canada-wide beer sales fell by 96 hectoliters per 100,000 population immediately after non-medical cannabis legalization and by 4 hectoliters per 100,000 population each month thereafter for an average monthly reduction of 136 hectoliters per 100,000 population post-legalization,” authors wrote. A hectoliter is a unit of measurement frequently used in reference to wine, beer, grain, or other agricultural goods, and is the total of 100 liters (1 liter is approximately 0.26 liquid gallons).

Researchers also explained that cannabis legalization did not impact spirit sales in the same way. Additionally, researchers believe that cannabis use could potentially lead to higher alcohol use in some people, specifically “those with greater sensation-seeking behaviors.” However, they also wrote that some consumers are substituting cannabis in the place of alcohol. 

Data on beer and spirits sales in Canada were compiled by Beer Canada and Spirits Canada. 

Beer Canada provided details about approximately 90% of total Canadian beer sales, while Spirits Canada showed sales in relation to whisky, rum, gin, tequila, liqueurs, and vodka but did not include ready-to-drink cocktails. Beer sales were reviewed between January 2012-February 2020, and spirits sales were examined between January 2016-February 2020.

The new proposed changes to Canada’s Cannabis Act and Food and Drugs Act could propel these sales even more if producers are better equipped to handle it. 

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Region: Canada

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