Health Canada’s Changes to the Cannabis Licensing Process

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Health Canada recently announced changes to the cannabis licensing process, in attempts to better allocate resources and increase efficiency of the application process – the overall approach beginning to align with that of other regulated sectors.

One of the more notable changes concerns how new, as well as existing applications will be considered. New applicants will be required to cultivate, process, or sell cannabis for medical purposes, in addition to having an established site ready for operations. Similarly, existing applications will only be reviewed in detail once the applicant’s site is fully built in accordance with the Cannabis Regulations. This approach aims to prevent awarding licenses to applicants who are not yet prepared to begin operations – especially as over 70% of applicants who passed Health Canada’s initial review over the last three years did not yet have fully built sites.

In response to feedback from applicants, Health Canada will also provide more direction on the license application process, including but not limited to information on good production practices, physical security measures and service standards. Service standards in particular will assist applicants in identifying relevant considerations to determine the likelihood of success of their application. Other changes to look for are increased support for Indigenous affiliated applications and applicants for micro-class licenses.

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