ARCHIVED - Security Clearances under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations

Overview of the Security Clearance Process

Key personnel, along with directors and officers in the case of a corporation, identified in a licensed producer application must hold a security clearance granted under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). Security clearances help minimize the risk to the integrity of the control of the production and distribution of cannabis under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and its regulations, including the risk of cannabis being diverted to an illicit market or use.

The checks conducted go beyond the verification of an individual's criminal record check and include a check of the relevant files of law enforcement agencies, including intelligence gathered for law enforcement purposes. The purpose of the checks is to identify information, such as the factors set out in section 92 of the MMPR, that could be relevant in determining that the applicant does not pose an unacceptable risk to the integrity of the control of the production and distribution of cannabis under the CDSA and its regulations, including the risk of cannabis being diverted to an illicit market or use. The checks are coordinated by the RCMP and can include consultation with local and other law enforcement agencies, on-the-ground fieldwork, and coordination of intelligence with law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions.

Neither Health Canada nor the RCMP are able to provide status updates for security screenings that are ongoing in order to maintain the integrity of the security clearance process.

Following the review of all relevant information by Health Canada, a security clearance may be granted if the information provided by the applicant and that resulting from the checks is reliable and sufficient to determine, by taking into account the factors set out in section 92, that the applicant does not pose an unacceptable risk to the integrity of the control of the production and distribution of cannabis under the CDSA and its regulations, including the risk of cannabis being diverted to an illicit market or use. If the intention is to refuse to grant a security clearance, the applicant will be notified in writing of the basis for the intent to refuse and will be provided with a minimum of 20 days to make written representations. A final determination on the security clearance application will not be made until the written representations are received and considered, or before the deadline for submitting has elapsed, whichever comes first. The applicant is notified in writing of the final decision.

The period of validity for a security clearance cannot exceed five years. Individuals that require a security clearance should make note of when he/she needs to request a new clearance and ensure that he/she allow sufficient time for this process.

Considerations for Applicants

The time needed to complete this process is variable as each case is unique. For many applicants security screening can take a few months. For applicants with more complex cases, the security screening process may be longer and take several additional months to complete depending on any necessary consultations with other law enforcement agencies. In rare cases it has taken over one year to complete. Other factors, such as multiple addresses and/or employers over the past five years, or applicants who have lived abroad, could affect the time required to complete this process. The presence of adverse information and/or the need to seek additional information from an applicant either in the form of written representations or otherwise, can also affect the overall amount of time required to complete this process.

Applicants should be aware that if they have an outstanding criminal charge and are ultimately found guilty, that information would be taken into account in the decision-making process for security clearance; the security clearance application will not be processed until the charge is disposed of by the courts. Security clearance will be refused if it is determined, by taking into account the factors in section 92 of the MMPR, that it is more likely than not that the applicant would pose an unacceptable risk to the integrity of the control of the production and distribution of cannabis under the CDSA and its regulations, including the risk of cannabis being diverted to an illicit market or use.

It is to the applicant's advantage to know, as much as possible, the individuals included in the application. A producer's licence will not be issued until all key personnel, directors, or officers in the case of a corporation, have been granted a security clearance.

Questions regarding the status of an application should be directed to Health Canada at 1-866-337-7705 or by email at MMPR-RMFM@hc-sc.gc.ca. Neither Health Canada nor the RCMP are able to provide status updates for security screenings that are ongoing in order to maintain the integrity of the security clearance process.

Who needs a Security Check?

When applying for a licence to produce under the MMPR, a Security Clearance Application form must be submitted by the following individuals:

  • the proposed senior person in charge;
  • the proposed responsible person in charge;
  • the proposed alternate responsible person(s) in charge (if applicable);
  • if a producer's licence is issued to an individual, that individual; and
  • if a producer's licence is issued to a corporation, each officer and director of the corporation.

The requirement for these individuals to have a valid security clearance is outlined in section 24 of the MMPR.

Incomplete Security Clearance Application forms for any of the individuals may result in a delay in consideration of the application for a security clearance and of the application to become a licensed producer.

As part of the security clearance process, each of the individuals identified above will be required to complete the Security Clearance Fingerprint Third Party Consent to Release Personal Information form that will allow a Canadian police force (or a fingerprinting company accredited by the RCMP) to electronically submit fingerprints to the RCMP for the purposes of a criminal record check.

Information on the fingerprinting process, including a list of agencies accredited by the RCMP is available. Please bring this form with you to your local police, RCMP detachment or RCMP accredited fingerprinting agency to ensure results are sent to the correct location.

What checks are conducted?

When an application is received and successfully passes Health Canada's enhanced screening stage of the application process, the application is advanced to the security clearance stage. At this time, the RCMP will be engaged and the security clearance process begins.

As part of the security clearance process outlined in section 91 of the MMPR, the following security checks must be conducted:

  1. a criminal record check in respect of the applicant; and,
  2. a check of the relevant files of law enforcement agencies, including intelligence gathered for law enforcement purposes.

These checks involve a rigorous examination of each individual requiring security clearance and can take a few months or longer. The purpose of these checks is to determine that an applicant does not pose a risk to the integrity of the control of the production and distribution of cannabis under the CDSA and its regulations.

What Factors are Considered in the Security Clearance Process?

Section 92 of the MMPR sets out the decision-making considerations for security clearances. For more information please consult the MMPR.

Approval of Security Clearance

An applicant is only notified of the approval of security clearances for their key personnel, along with directors and officers in the case of a corporation, as identified in their application, when their production licence is issued. This notice will confirm the duration of the security clearance granted.

Notice of Refusal

In the case where the intention is to refuse to grant a security clearance the following steps will be taken in accordance with section 94 of the MMPR:

  1. The applicant will be notified in writing of the intent to refuse to grant a security clearance.
  2. The notice will set out the basis for Health Canada's intention and fix a period of time within which the applicant may make written representations to Health Canada, which period of time must start on the day on which the notice is served or sent and must not be less than 20 days.
  3. A security clearance will not be refused until the written representations have been received and considered or before the period of time fixed in the notice has expired, whichever comes first. The applicant will be notified in writing of any refusal.

If an individual's security clearance under the MMPR is refused or cancelled, the individual cannot submit a new application until the circumstances that resulted in the refusal or cancellation has changed or until five years after the refusal or the cancellation have elapsed.

When a Security Clearance is No Longer Required - Cancellation of Security Clearance

Section 96 of the MMPR requires that licensed producers provide written notification of security clearances that are no longer required by the MMPR not later than five days after that determination is made.

Suspension of a Security Clearance

  1. Section 97 of the MMPR allows for a security clearance to be suspended on receipt of information that could change the determination made under section 92 of the MMPR. The applicant will be notified in writing immediately after a decision is made to suspend a security clearance.
  2. The notice will set out the basis for the suspension and fix a period of time within which the individual may make written representations to Health Canada, which period of time must start on the day on which the notice is served or sent and must be not less than 20 days.
  3. A security clearance will not be cancelled until the written representations have been received and considered or before the period of time fixed in the notice has expired, whichever comes first. The holder will be notified in writing of any cancellation of security clearance.
  4. The suspended security clearance may be reinstated if it is determined under section 92 that the holder does not pose an unacceptable risk to the integrity of the control of the production and distribution of cannabis under the CDSA and its regulations, including the risk of cannabis being diverted to an illicit market or use.
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