Amendments on cannabis research and testing, and cannabis beverages


December 2022

The Cannabis Act helps to protect public health and public safety, including by enhancing public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis use, providing access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis, and providing for the regulated production of cannabis to reduce the illegal market.

Amendments to the Cannabis Act and its regulations were recently approved that will facilitate non-therapeutic research with cannabis, facilitate cannabis testing, and increase the public possession limit for cannabis beverages. These amendments are in force as of today, and make the following changes:

  • Most non-therapeutic research on cannabis will be regulated only under the Cannabis Regulations, with a few exceptions. Non-therapeutic research on cannabis can include, for example, studies that examine the onset and duration of the effects of a cannabis product, studies that inform product development, and studies related to public health. Previously, most of this research was regulated under both the Cannabis Regulations and the Food and Drug Regulations as clinical trials.
  • The public possession limit for cannabis beverages has increased to a level that is similar to other forms of cannabis, such as edible cannabis (e.g. gummies or chocolate). As a result, adults in Canada are now able to possess up to 17.1 litres (equal to 48 cans of 355 ml each) of cannabis beverages in public for non-medical purposes. 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.
  • Analytical testing licence holders and federal and provincial government laboratories can produce, distribute and sell reference standards and test kits, which will increase access to cannabis testing materials and thereby support access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis.
  • 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. This change allows for a larger pool of eligible candidates for this role, while still ensuring that those individuals are able to fulfill the duties of the position.

The amendments came into force on December 2, 2022, and include two transition periods to minimize disruption to existing license holders:

  • For existing research licence holders that work with human participants, there is a 24-month transition period. This transition period balances the needs of researchers by allowing them to complete in-progress research, while providing sufficient time to obtain a research licence under the new non-therapeutic research on cannabis framework.
  • For processing licence holders who produce cannabis beverages, there is a 12-month transition period to allow time to update labels on cannabis beverages. Other authorized sellers (e.g. provincially and territorially authorized distributors and retailers) can continue to distribute or sell their existing inventory of previously labelled cannabis beverages, and are not impacted by this transition period.

There is no federal limit on the amount of cannabis that can be purchased or sold at a retail location. However, to reduce the potential risk of consumers exceeding the federal public possession limit, some provinces and territories have set purchase limits in their jurisdictions. For provinces and territories that reference the federal public possession limits to set purchase limits, these purchase limits will automatically change for cannabis beverages. For provinces and territories that do not reference the federal public possession limits, they would need to amend their framework in order to align purchase limits to the new federal public possession limit.

These amendments follow Health Canada's extensive engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders, including two public consultations. Feedback was received from universities and researchers, cannabis licence holders, cannabis industry associations, public health stakeholders, health care associations, provinces and territories and individual Canadians. Overall, the majority of the submissions were supportive of the amendments.

Members of the public can reach out to Health Canada at to request a copy of the final amendments and the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement.

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