Application form for an exemption to use a controlled substance for scientific purposes

To apply, you should be the Principal Investigator (PI) or person responsible for the project and should have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in science (B.Sc.). If you are a practitioner, you should indicate the licence number issued to you by your provincial licensing body.

Exemptions can be issued for all substances listed in Schedules I-IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). For substances found in Part J of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), a supporting letter from the Institution where you are affiliated must accompany the application.

For research involving cannabis including industrial hemp, phytocannabinoids produced by, or found in a cannabis plant and substances identical to such phytocannabinoids, test kits containing cannabis, and drugs containing cannabis, please contact the Cannabis team at

Exemptions are protocol, principal investigator, site and substance specific. Therefore, you must submit an application in your own name, which specifies the controlled substance(s) and protocol(s) to be used. It should be noted that the exemption issued to you also extends to all colleagues, assistants and technicians participating in the same project to possess and use the controlled substance, as long as these individuals are under your direction and control. You are responsible for any portion of controlled substance used by any one of these individuals.

Exemptions are valid for 2 years from the issuance date. You may apply for an extension if required.

Sufficient information must be supplied to Health Canada to support the use of a controlled substance in the project or protocol and to provide confirmation that the controlled substance will be stored in a secure manner.

Please note that the following documents are required as part of your application:

  • Application form with signature;
  • A copy of the research protocol and/or amendments to the protocol (in vivo administration and in vitro utilisation); and
  • The current year’s approval of the protocol from the local Animal Care Committee (in vivo administration).

If the controlled substance for which you are seeking a scientific exemption is not available in Canada, the Office of Controlled Substances’ licensed dealership may import it from another country on your behalf. If this is the case, please complete the Import Order Authorization and Permit Application Form (IOPAF) and return it with your application.

Please complete the application form for an exemption to use a controlled substance for scientific purposes. Completed applications forms can be submitted to or mailed to the address below:

Exemptions Division
Office of Controlled Substances
Health Canada
161 Goldenrod Drwy
Ottawa ON K1A 0K9

The average processing time for an exemption (once all information required is provided) is 70 calendar days. You may be contacted for clarification of information submitted or if your application is incomplete.

Please email with any questions or concerns.

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