Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis – Summary of Comments Received during the Public Consultation

Backgrounder

March 19, 2018

On November 21, 2017, Health Canada launched a 60-day public consultation on the proposed approach to developing regulations under the proposed Cannabis Act. Today, Health Canada released a report that summarizes the feedback it received from the consultation.

Health Canada received 3,218 responses to the online survey and 450 written responses. Additionally, 192 interested parties participated in roundtables and 343 interested parties participated in webinars, as individuals or experts or as representatives of organizations or associations.

Health Canada also held a series of meetings and dedicated discussions with:

  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations;
  • representatives from all provinces and territories; and
  • stakeholders who will be directly affected by the regulations, including patients and patient advocates, licensed producers and prospective licensees.

What We Heard

In general, Canadians supported the proposed approach to the regulation of cannabis. They expressed support for:

  • The proposed system of licences and permits, including micro-scale licences;
  • The proposed approach to providing continued access to cannabis for medical purposes;
  • The proposed requirement for select personnel to hold a security clearance; and
  • The proposed product, packaging and labelling requirements.

The provinces and territories, industry and stakeholders also indicated that they would need advance notice of regulatory requirements for the packaging and labelling of products so that they would have sufficient time to manufacture, prepare and make available for sale compliant cannabis products before the coming into force of the proposed Cannabis Act.

Packaging and Labelling Requirements for Cannabis Products

The report provides clear direction on the plain packaging and labelling provisions of the proposed regulations to help licensed producers, provinces and territories and others prepare for the coming into force of the proposed Act.

An evidence-informed, public health approach is being taken to the packaging and labelling requirements to:

  • help minimize the appeal of cannabis products to children and youth;
  • help prevent accidental consumption; and
  • provide adult consumers with information they need to make informed decisions if they choose to use cannabis, including the potential risks and harms associated with cannabis use.

Specifically on packaging:

  • All cannabis products will need to be child-resistant and tamper-evident.
  • The immediate container will need to be either opaque or translucent.
  • Packaging will need to be a single uniform colour—it cannot be embossed, shiny or metallic.
  • The use of graphics and images will be prohibited.
  • The use of branding and logos will be restricted.

Specifically on labelling:

All labels on cannabis products will need to include:

  • mandatory health warning messages to warn Canadians of the potential risks of cannabis use;
  • the standardized symbol of a red stop sign with a cannabis leaf and the letters THC; and
  • other required information, such as THC and CBD content, so that consumers can make informed choices.

These measures are consistent with the Government’s public health approach to cannabis and the recommendations of the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. They are in addition to the restrictions set out in the proposed Cannabis Act, namely that packaging and labelling must not appeal to youth, not contain lifestyle elements, present testimonials or endorsements, nor communicate false statements.

These standards, taken together with measures in the legislation, such as the criminal offence for selling to youth, and prohibitions on advertising and promotion, will help protect youth from access to or inducements to using cannabis.

These measures will be supported by the ongoing public education campaign to educate Canadians, particularly youth and young adults, about the health and safety facts about cannabis.

Should the proposed Act be approved by Parliament, the final regulations would be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, as soon as possible following Royal Assent of the Act and before its coming into force. Final regulatory decisions will not be announced until such time as the proposed Cannabis Act has been approved by Parliament.


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