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Cannabis research focus of new Health Canada consultation

Stakeholders to also provide comment on public possession limits, micro licensing, among others


December 12, 2020
By Mari-Len De Guzman


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Health Canada has launched a new public consultation, providing stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the federal government’s intent to amend the Cannabis Regulations on non-therapeutics cannabis research, as well as cannabis testing.

In a notice published in the Canada Gazette, Health Canada said it is considering proposing amendments to the Cannabis Regulations and related regulatory frameworks that would enable non-therapeutic cannabis research involving human participants by implementing appropriate health and safety controls, and broadening reporting requirements for adverse reactions.

The proposed amendment will also seek to “streamline and rationalize” licensing to facilitate cannabis testing activities.

To facilitate these objectives, Health Canada is considering amendments to the Cannabis Regulations, the Food and Drugs Act, and the Cannabis Exemption Regulations.

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“Health Canada recognizes that conducting research involving human participants with cannabis is critical to generating high-quality evidence to provide adult Canadians with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions on their consumption of cannabis and its risks,” the government agency said in the Canada Gazette notice.

“Health Canada is also aware of academic and industry researchers facing challenges in conducting non-therapeutic research involving human participants with cannabis products that are commercially available due to having to comply with the clinical trial requirements under Division 5 of Part C of the FDR,” it added.

In addition to consulting on non-therapeutic research and cannabis testing, Health Canada’s new round of stakeholder consultations will also cover public possession limits, product labelling, micro class and nursery licensing, and COVID-19 measures.

Notable on the public possession limit consultation is Health Canada’s question on whether to increase, and by how much, possession limits for cannabis-infused beverages, which is currently at around two litres per person.

For product labeling, Health Canada is asking public comments on whether labels should display information on other cannabinoids and terpenes, and other information that would aid more informed and responsible use by consumers.

The consultations also give stakeholders the opportunity to provide inputs on microcultivation and nursery licensing to help strengthen the sectors’ competitiveness with larger producers.

The Cannabis Council of Canada (C3) welcomed the new round of consultations, taking it as a sign that Health Canada is “responding to concerns” raised by the industry association in its ongoing talks with the federal government.

“In particular, the proposed regulatory change for research will be carefully reviewed to see if it addresses concerns that led to C3 rating Research as a D grade given imminent threats to Canada’s global leadership,” George Smitherman, president of C3, said in an email statement to Grow Opportunity.

Last October, C3 issued an industry “report card” that evaluated the cannabis industry’s performance on various factors. The report card was released on the second anniversary of Canada’s cannabis legalization.

Smitherman also noted as “promising” the inputs on public possession limits. “We have made a clear priority of the need to improve the conditions for full proportion cannabis beverages. We need to be sure that input leads to regulatory action.”

The consultation period began Friday, Dec. 11, and will last for a period of 30 days. Comments and feedback regarding this public consultation should be sent cannabis.consultation@canada.ca


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