Pest Control Products for use on cannabis
Under the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Regulations (CR), licence holders are only permitted to use pesticides or pest control products (PCPs) that are approved for use on cannabis under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA).
Health Canada would like to remind licence holders of their obligations when it comes to the use of PCPs in the production of cannabis. The following regulatory obligations must be met before selling products:
- Subsection 93(1) of the CR, “cannabis that is a cannabis product or that is contained in a cannabis accessory that is a cannabis product must not contain any substance other than the cannabis”.
- Subsection 93(2) of the CR, “despite subsection (1), the cannabis may contain residues of a pest control product, its components or derivatives, if they do not exceed any maximum residue limit, in relation to cannabis, specified for the pest control product, its components or derivatives under section 9 or 10 of the Pest Control Products Act”.
- Section 81 of the CR, “cannabis must not be treated with a pest control product unless the product is registered for use on cannabis under the Pest Control Products Act or is otherwise authorized for use under that Act”.
Section 79 of the CR prohibits a licence holder from selling, distributing or exporting cannabis unless the Good Production Practices requirements set out in sections 80 to 88 of the CR have been met. This includes the requirements related to the use of PCPs.
As such, licence holders must ensure that no other products, other than the approved PCPs, are used to treat their products or have contaminated their products as part of their production practices.
Licence holders are required to have adequate controls at their site to ensure that unauthorized PCPs are not used. These controls may include, but are not limited to, restricting access to PCPs, monitoring the application of products to cannabis, or testing for unauthorized PCP use. Licence holders are encouraged to review and implement an integrated pest management program as part of their Good Production Practices.
Registered Pest Control Products
All products designed to manage, destroy, attract or repel pests that are used, sold or imported into Canada are regulated by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), the branch of Health Canada responsible for administering the PCPA on behalf of the Minister of Health.
Registration under the PCPA requires a thorough scientific evaluation to determine that new PCPs are acceptable for a specific use, and that registered PCPs on the market remain acceptable for use. PCPs may only be used for the pests and treatment areas listed on the label, and must be used according to the label directions.
The PMRA maintains the online Pesticide Label Search tool, which can be used to generate a list of PCPs currently registered for use on cannabis (marihuana). Read the label directions and safety tips before buying a PCP. The label must include the PCP registration number, the name of the pest to be controlled, the specific crop it may be used on, and the treatment location (for example, indoor, outdoor).
Licence holders with questions or concerns regarding PCPs should contact the Pest Management Information Service.
Mandatory cannabis testing for pesticide active ingredients by licence holders
In May 2017, Health Canada announced that it would require mandatory testing for the presence of pesticide active ingredients in all cannabis products before products could be sold or provided to individuals as a result of some licenced producers using unauthorized PCPs. The Mandatory cannabis testing for pesticide active ingredients – Requirements and the Mandatory cannabis testing for pesticide active ingredients – List and limits came into effect on January 2, 2019.
Unannounced cannabis testing
Health Canada also conducts unannounced sampling and testing of cannabis products produced by licence holders to provide added assurance to Canadians that they are receiving quality-controlled product and to ensure that only registered PCPs are used during the production process.
In the event that an unauthorized PCP is used on cannabis intended for sale, Health Canada will take applicable enforcement actions under the CR. This includes, but is not limited to, the seizure and destruction of the product, recall of products sold to clients, and suspension and/or revocation of the licence or the issuance of an Administrative Monetary Penalty up to $1 million. Compliance actions may also be taken under the PCPA.
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