Applying for a licence under the Cannabis Act and Regulations
The Cannabis Act and its Regulations provide the framework for legal access to cannabis for adults and they control and regulate its production, distribution and sale.
Under this framework a person is required to obtain a licence issued by Health Canada to conduct various activities with cannabis.
The application process for most licence classes, including the information required in an application, is set out in the Cannabis Licensing Application Guide. This document gives guidance to those wishing to apply for these licence classes and subclasses:
- Cultivation (including micro and standard cultivation or nursery)
- Processing (including micro or standard processing)
- Sale for medical purposes
- Analytical testing
The guide also gives information on these licence types and the requirements for each.
The information on this page is specific to applications for these licence classes only.
Please refer to the following pages for information on applying for:
Note: Questions on the application for a Cannabis Drug Licence may be directed to : email@example.com
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Applying for a licence under the Cannabis Act and its regulations
There are specific actions you should take when applying to Health Canada:
1. Become familiar with the relevant federal and provincial, territorial, municipal and indigenous government legislation
We recommend that you be familiar with the knowledge areas outlined in section 5.1 of the Guide. This will help you comply with the requirements of
- the Cannabis Act and its Regulations
- other federal and provincial or territorial legislation and regulations, municipal by-laws and/or indigenous government legislation
2. Decide on the type of licence to apply for
Learn about the classes and subclasses of licences to determine which class your activities of interest fall under.
3. Develop your site (certain licence types only)
Effective May 8, 2019, Health Canada requires new applicants for cultivation, processing or sales for medical purposes licences to have a fully built site that meets all the requirements of the Cannabis Regulations at the time of their application, as well as satisfying other application criteria.
In developing a site, applicants should consult the relevant federal, provincial, municipal and indigenous government rules, as noted above. In addition, Health Canada provides the following guidance and information to applicants:
- Cannabis Licensing Application Guide
- Physical Security Measures Guide
- Good Production Practices Guide
- Security Clearances under the Cannabis Act and Regulations
Note: At this time, not all guidance is available online. Electronic versions of the guides can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Create an account in the CTLS
Health Canada has established the Cannabis Tracking and Licensing System as the main way to submit licensing applications. The CTLS Getting Started Guide provides information on the steps you need to take to create an account.
We encourage prospective applicants to read both the Cannabis Licensing Application Guide and the CTLS Getting Started Guide all the way through before creating an account.
5. Have associated individuals create accounts in the CTLS
User accounts are required for a number of individuals associated with an application. These individuals must create their own individual accounts in the CTLS before an application can be submitted to Health Canada.
Depending on the licence type sought, some of these individuals will also be required to apply to Health Canada for a security clearance. Please see the Cannabis Licensing Application Guide for more information.
Note: As per step 9 below, security clearances will only be processed following the successful screening of a submitted application.
6. Create a corporate profile for organizations
Applicants that are partnerships, cooperatives, and corporations (basically any applicant that is not an individual/sole proprietor) also need to create a corporate profile in CTLS.
7. Create an application
The guide includes the application requirements for each class of licence. Health Canada reviews all applications strictly and thoroughly against the application requirements outlined in this guide and the requirements outlined in the Regulations. Licences are only issued once all applicable requirements are met.
Applicants and licence holders are responsible for complying with the Cannabis Act and its Regulations as well as with other federal, provincial and territorial legislation, municipal by-laws and indigenous government legislation that apply.
8. Submit the application
Applications can only be submitted when you have included all of the requirements in the application in the CTLS. Once submitted, applications undergo an initial screening for completeness and clarity.
For applications for a cultivation, processing or sales for medical purposes licence, a site evidence submission must be received by Health Canada before an application can be considered.
9. Support the application review
Once your application has successfully passed the initial screening, Health Canada will conduct an in-depth review of your application as well as extensive security checks on all the people who require security clearances. Health Canada may contact you for more information in some areas of your application.
With the high number of applications for cannabis licences and the rigorous application review, you should expect that it will take some time for your application to begin active review after it is accepted. Key factors in application processing times are the quality of the application and whether it contains sufficient information and evidence to demonstrate how it meets the security measures, the Good Production Practices, and the record-keeping requirements. You can check the status of your application in your CTLS account at any time.
Managing a licence
The Cannabis Regulations set out requirements that a licence holder must follow to manage their licence, such as when renewing or amending it. There are also notification and reporting requirements that a licence holder must follow to stay compliant and keep their licence. Holders of all licence classes (except for industrial hemp and cannabis drug licences) should refer to the Licence Management Guide for information on requirements and processes for:
- licence renewals
- licence amendments
- changes requiring approval of Health Canada
- changes requiring notification to Health Canada
- import and export permit applications and notification requirements
- reporting and disclosure requirements
- licence and permit refusals, suspensions and revocations
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