EDN52 Obtaining and Renewing a Cannabis Licence

From: Canada Revenue Agency

May 2018 

The purpose of this notice is to provide information about the licensing requirements for persons who wish to obtain a cannabis licence to undertake activities in relation to cannabis products, as proposed under the Excise Act, 2001. It also provides information on the transitional provisions that relate to the proposed cannabis licensing requirements prior to commencement day. Cultivators, producers and packagers of cannabis products should carefully review the information on licensing included in this notice. It provides the licensing requirements, suspension and cancellation processes as well as the conditions applicants must meet to obtain a cannabis licence.

The information included in this notice is for reference purposes only and does not replace the Excise Act, 2001 or its regulations. Should there be any discrepancy between the information in this notice and that contained in the Act or its regulations, the legislative provisions apply. If the information in this publication does not completely address your particular situation, you may wish to refer to the Act or its regulations, or contact your CRA regional excise office for additional information. These offices are listed at Contact Information – Excise Duties, Excise Taxes, Fuel Charge and Air Travellers Security Charge.

The licensing requirements described in this notice are based, in part, on proposed amendments to the Excise Act, 2001 under Bill C-74, Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1, which received second reading on April 23, 2018. This legislation has been announced by the Government of Canada but has not yet been enacted by Parliament. The information in this notice is also based, in part, on the proposed amendments to the Regulations Respecting Excise Licences and Registrations. Any commentary contained in this notice should not be taken as a representation by the CRA that the proposed amendments to the Excise Act, 2001 or the Regulations will eventually be enacted or adopted in their current form.

Overview

As part of the Government of Canada’s proposal to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis products, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) would be responsible for administering and enforcing the proposed new excise duty framework for cannabis products included in Bill C‑74. This framework includes proposed amendments to the Excise Act, 2001 and related regulations to impose duties that would generally apply to cannabis products sold for both medical and non-medical purposes. Cannabis products would include dried and fresh flowering material (flower), dried and fresh non-flowering material (trim), cannabis oils, as well as vegetative cannabis plant (seedling) and viable seeds (seeds) for home cultivation. Refer to the definition of cannabis product in Excise Duty Notice EDN53, General Information for Cultivators, Producers and Packagers of Cannabis Products.

Under proposed subsection 14(1.2) of the Act, a cannabis licence issued to a person by the CRA would only take effect when any licence or permit issued to that person by Health Canada under subsection 62(1) of the proposed Cannabis Act comes into effect.Footnote 1  For information on cannabis from Health Canada, go to canada.ca/cannabis.

Requirement to obtain a cannabis licence

When a licence is required

Unless specified in the Act, every person who wishes to produce or package cannabis products would be required to obtain a licence under that act. This includes persons who produce cannabis products for research and development or educational purposes.

To produce cannabis means to obtain it by any method or process, including by manufacturing, synthesis, altering its chemical or physical properties by any means, or cultivating, propagating or harvesting it or any living thing from which it may be extracted or otherwise obtained. It also includes packaging the cannabis product.

The Act prohibits any person from producing, packaging or possessing non-duty-paid cannabis products without a cannabis licence except under specific circumstances. Persons producing, packaging or possessing non-duty-paid cannabis products without a licence may be subject to fines and/or terms of imprisonment.

When a licence is not required

Under proposed section 158.01 of the Act, a cannabis licence would not be required where:

  • cannabis products are produced in Canada by an individual for the personal useFootnote 2  of the individual and in accordance with the proposed Cannabis Act;
  • cannabis products are produced in Canada by an individual, under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or the proposed Cannabis Act, as applicable, for the medical purposes of the individual; and
  • cannabis products are produced in Canada by an individual who, under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or the proposed Cannabis Act, as applicable, is a designated person who is authorized to produce cannabis products in Canada for the medical purposes of another individual.

Also, under proposed subsection 158.02(3) of the Act, a licence would not be required for industrial hemp by-products produced by an industrial hemp grower.

Licensing conditions

Each cannabis licence would authorize the licensee to carry out only the activities specified in the licence. Activities that may be specified are the cultivation, the production and the packaging of cannabis products. A cannabis licence may also specify any combination of these activities.

Subsection 23(3) of the Act provides that the activities that may be carried on under the licence and the premises where these activities may be carried on may be specified in the licence. In addition, conditions considered to be appropriate by the CRA in the circumstances may be imposed on the carrying on of these activities.

Pursuant to section 24 of the Act, a licensee must comply with the Act and its regulations when carrying on the activities specified under their licence.

Eligibility for a licence

A person must meet specific eligibility criteria to obtain a licence under the Act.

General requirements

Pursuant to paragraphs 2(2)(a) and (b) of the Regulations, a licence will only be issued if the person:

  • is not the subject of a receivership in respect of their debts;
  • has not failed in the past 5 years immediately before the date of the licence application to comply with any Act of Parliament (other than the Excise Act, 2001) or of a provincial or territorial legislature that deals with the taxation or control of tobacco or alcohol, or any regulations made under it; and
  • has not acted to defraud Her Majesty in the past 5 years immediately before the date of the licence application.

Individuals

Under paragraph 2(2)(c) of the Regulations, a licence will only be issued to an individual if that individual:

  • is at least 18 years of age; and
  • has sufficient financial resources to conduct the business in a responsible manner.

Partnerships or unincorporated bodies

Composed of individuals

Under subparagraph 2(2)(d)(i) of the Regulations, a licence will only be issued to a partnership or unincorporated body composed only of individuals if:

  • each individual is at least 18 years of age; and
  • the partnership or unincorporated body has sufficient financial resources to conduct its business in a responsible manner.

Composed of corporations

Pursuant to subparagraph 2(2)(d)(ii) of the Regulations, a licence will only be issued to a partnership or unincorporated body composed only of corporations if each of the corporations has sufficient financial resources to conduct its business in a responsible manner.

Composed of individuals and corporations

Under subparagraph 2(2)(d)(iii) of the Regulations, a licence will only be issued to a partnership or unincorporated body composed of individuals and corporations if:

  • with respect to the individuals, each of them is at least 18 years of age; and
  • with respect to the partnership or unincorporated body and the corporations, each of them has sufficient financial resources to conduct its business in a responsible manner.

Corporations

Under paragraph 2(2)(e) of the Regulations, a licence will only be issued to a corporation if the corporation has sufficient financial resources to conduct its business in a responsible manner.

Applying for a licence

Form L300, Cannabis Licence Application

Under section 2 of the Regulations, every person who wishes to obtain a cannabis licence would be required to complete Form L300, Cannabis Licence Application, and submit it to their regional excise office.

An applicant who would require more space to provide information on individuals, partners, directors, officers or shareholders would also need to complete Form L300 SCH B, Information Relating to Individuals, Partners, Directors, Officers or Shareholders, and submit it with Form L300.

There are no fees related to the application for or the issuance of a cannabis licence.

More than one premises

A cannabis licence would authorize a person to carry out the activities specified in that licence at a single location or at several locations. Therefore, pursuant to subsection 2(1) of the Regulations, a person who submits an application for a cannabis licence and who has more than one business location would also complete Form L300 SCH A, Other Business Location(s), and submit it with Form L300, in which all the premises requiring authorization for the purposes of the licence would be listed.

Security requirements

Pursuant to proposed paragraph 23(3)(b) of the Act, every person who submits an application for a cannabis licence or the renewal of that licence would be required to provide security in an amount determined in accordance with the Regulations and in a form and amount acceptable to the CRA. Security is a condition of licensing and must be posted before a licence is issued or renewed and must be maintained during the licensing period.

Amount of security required

As per proposed paragraph 5(1)(b) of the Regulations, the amount of security would need to be sufficient to ensure payment of the total amount of all cannabis duty and additional cannabis duty payable indicated by the cannabis licensee for any calendar month. The minimum amount of security required would be $5,000 and the maximum amount would be $5 million. The cannabis duty and, where applicable, additional cannabis duty payable would refer to the net amount of duties indicated on the licensee’s cannabis duty return after all deductions and refunds are claimed.

Subject to the minimum and maximum amounts, licence applicants who package cannabis products would generally need to provide security as follows:

  • for a new cannabis licence application, security would be calculated as:

(estimated number of grams to be used to produce cannabis products that will be sold over the first 12 months × $1.00 per gram) ÷ 12

  • for a renewal application, security would be the highest amount of cannabis duty and, where applicable, additional cannabis duty payable for a calendar month in the previous 12 calendar months.

Anyone requiring assistance in determining the correct amount of security to be provided to the CRA may contact their regional excise office.

Example 

A new cannabis licence applicant expects to use approximately 1 million grams of cannabis to produce and package cannabis products that will be sold in the 12 months after obtaining the licence. The security requirement would be calculated as follows:

(1,000,000 × $1.00/gram) ÷ 12

The applicant would need to provide security in the amount of $83,333.

Maintenance of security

A cannabis licence issued under the Act would remain in effect for a maximum period of 2 years, provided that it is not suspended or cancelled prior to expiration. Since the provision of adequate security is a condition of licensing, the licensee would need to ensure that the level of security provided remains sufficient for the term of the licence.

The cannabis licence of a licensee who fails to maintain a sufficient level of security may be suspended or cancelled and the renewal of the licence may be denied.

Increase in security required

A licensee who determines that the level of security has or may become inadequate would immediately contact their regional excise office to discuss the situation or to obtain assistance in determining the correct amount of security to be provided.

For licensees packaging cannabis products, if the amount of security provided by a licensee is reviewed and it is determined that additional security is required, the licensee would need to provide the additional security amount without delay.

Increase in security not required

Adjustments may not be required for minimal changes to the amount of security. If the CRA has reviewed the security requirements, a cannabis licensee may not be required to increase the amount of security if:

  • the amount of security required is $100,000 or less and the additional amount of security is less than 10% of that amount; or
  • the amount of security required exceeds $100,000 and the additional amount of security required does not exceed $10,000.

Decrease in the amount of security

If, at any time, a decrease in the total amount of security is warranted, the licensee may request in writing that the excess amount of security be returned. The excess amount of security would only be returned if:

  • the amount of security required is $100,000 or less and the excess amount of security is greater than 10% of that amount; or
  • the amount of security required exceeds $100,000 and the excess amount of security is greater than $10,000.

Acceptable forms of security

Pursuant to subsection 5(2) of the Regulations, security must be provided in Canadian funds in the form of cash, certified cheque, transferable bonds issued by the Government of Canada (non-certificated) or surety bonds issued by an approved entity.

For more information on the acceptable forms of security, refer to Excise Duty Memorandum EDM2-2-3, Government of Canada Bonds and Surety Bonds, and Excise Duty Memorandum EDM2-2-4, Approved Financial Institutions and Acceptable Bonding Companies.

Certification

An authorized person would have to sign the completed Form L300, Cannabis Licence Application. If the applicant is a corporation or an association, or an organization that has duly elected or appointed officers, the authorized person is the president, vice-president, secretary or treasurer (or other equivalent officers). If the applicant is a sole proprietorship or partnership, the proprietor or a partner, respectively, would sign the application.

Form L301, Registration for Cannabis Stamping Regime

Proposed subsection 158.03(1) of the Act allows that, on application, the CRA may issue cannabis excise stamps to a cannabis licensee. The purpose of the cannabis excise stamp is to indicate that cannabis duty and, where applicable, additional cannabis duty were paid on the cannabis products and that the cannabis products were produced for the legal market.

Any person packaging cannabis products subject to duty would be required to be licensed and would be required to register under the cannabis excise stamping regime by completing and submitting Form L301, Registration for the Cannabis Stamping Regime. For more information, see Excise Duty Notice EDN54, General Overview of the Cannabis Excise Stamps.

Authorized representative

A licensee may wish to authorize an individual (such as an accountant, a lawyer or an employee) or a firm as their representative related to their excise duty program account. To authorize a representative to discuss their excise duty program accounts by telephone or mail, the licensee may complete and submit Form RC59, Business Consent for Offline Access. To authorize a representative for online access, the licensee must use the “Authorize a representative” service in My Business Account. A representative who wishes to request online access to a licensee’s account information must follow the electronic authorization process at Represent a Client, on the Canada.ca website. For more information on the application process for an authorized representative, see the article "Changes to Form RC59 after May 15, 2017" in Excise and GST/HST News – No. 102 (July 2017).

Effect and duration of licence

Once a decision is made to issue a licence, the regional excise office would issue a cannabis licence approval letter, in which the following would be specified: the legal name of the entity that holds the licence, the complete mailing address, the premises authorized under the licence, the activities that may be carried on under the licence and the effective and expiry dates of the licence.

The cannabis licence would be effective from the date indicated on the licence approval letter and would generally remain in effect until the expiry date indicated in that letter. According to section 4 of the Regulations, a licence issued under the Act remains in effect for a maximum period of 2 years, provided that it is not suspended or cancelled prior to expiration.

The CRA may amend, suspend, cancel or impose additional conditions on a cannabis licence at any time while it is in effect. For more information on the grounds for suspension or cancellation of a licence, see the section “Suspension or cancellation of a licence” in this notice.

Licence renewal

Licences are not renewed automatically. A cannabis licensee who wishes to renew their cannabis licence would need to complete Form L300, Cannabis Licence Application, and submit it to their regional excise office at least 30 days before the expiry date. The applicant would check the box “Renewal” on the form to indicate that the application relates to the renewal of an existing licence. Any additional security that may be required should be provided with the application.

A cannabis licence could be renewed if the person submits an application for renewal within the specified time and the applicant continues to meet the requirements of the Regulations as described in the section “Eligibility for a licence”.

Notification of changes

Pursuant to sections 6 of the Regulations, a licensee must notify their regional excise office, in writing, of any changes to their information without delay. Such changes may include:

  • a change of name, or legal entity;
  • the discontinuance of the operations covered by the licence;
  • a change in the list of premises;
  • a change in any other information provided on, or in support of, the licence application, including officers and directors; or
  • a change to the address where the books and records are maintained

Name change

In the case of a name change, a cannabis licensee would notify their regional excise office in writing before the change occurs or as soon as possible after the change. No new cannabis licence or excise duty program account number (12345 6789 RD 0001) would be issued.

Change of legal entity

Where a change of legal entity occurs (for example, a proprietorship incorporates or a corporation merges with another corporation), the existing cannabis licence would be cancelled and the person would have to apply for a new licence by completing Form L300, Cannabis Licence Application, and submitting it to their regional excise office. A copy of the new or revised certificate of incorporation or the certificate of amalgamation along with a replacement form of security would have to be sent with the form.

Facilities, personnel and equipment

Under section 13 of the Regulations, and as a condition of a licence under the Act, all licensees must provide the following at each premises listed in the licence:

  • adequate space for the examination of goods or records by a CRA officer;
  • the equipment and personnel necessary to ensure that the goods or records to be examined are made available to the CRA officer; and
  • the personnel necessary to provide information to a CRA officer, for audit purposes, with respect to the operations, inventory system and records of the licensee.

Refusal to issue or renew a licence

The decision to issue or renew a licence rests with the CRA. An application for a cannabis licence could be denied in any of the following circumstances, even if an appropriate licence has been granted by Health Canada:

  • the eligibility requirements are not satisfied;
  • there is reason to believe that access to the premises of the person will be denied or impeded by any person; or
  • it is not in the public interest to issue a licence.

A determination to not issue a licence would not prevent the submission of a subsequent application for a licence at any future point. An applicant could also apply to the Federal Court for a judicial review of the decision of the CRA to not issue a licence.

Suspension or cancellation of a licence

Under subsection 23(2) of the Act, a licence may be suspended or cancelled in certain circumstances.

A licensee could apply to the Federal Court for a judicial review of the decision of the CRA to suspend or cancel a licence.

Suspension

Reason

Under proposed subsection 23(2.1) of the Act and pursuant to subsection 10(1) of the Regulations, a licence may be suspended if, at any time,

  • the licensee fails to notify the CRA of any changes to their licensing information as required by the legislation;
  • the licensee fails to provide at the premises adequate space, equipment and/or personnel required for the examination of goods and records by an officer;
  • access to the premises of the licensee is denied or impeded by any person;
  • the licensee fails to meet any of the conditions of the licence;
  • a licence or permit issued under subsection 62(1) of the proposed Cannabis Act to the licensee is amended, suspended or revoked; or
  • it is otherwise in the public interest for the licence to be suspended.

Notice of suspension and recourse

Under subsection 10(2) of the Regulations, if a licence is suspended, a written notice would immediately be sent by the CRA to the licensee to advise of the suspension and to provide the grounds for the suspension. When a licence has been suspended, it means that, from the date of suspension, the person can no longer carry on any activities specified under that licence until it is reinstated.

Pursuant to subsection 10(3) of the Regulations, a person who received notice that their cannabis licence was suspended may, within 90 days from the date of suspension, make representations to the CRA regarding why the licence should be reinstated.

Reinstatement

When the grounds for the suspension of a licence no longer exist, the licence may be reinstated. When a licence is reinstated, the licensee is advised in writing by the CRA. Reinstatement means that the licensee will be permitted to carry on the activities specified under that licence from the date of reinstatement.

Cancellation

Reason

Under proposed subsection 23(2.1) of the Act and pursuant to subsection 12(1) of the Regulations, a licence may be cancelled if, at any time,

  • the licensee requests in writing that the licence be cancelled;
  • a licence or permit issued under subsection 62(1) of the proposed Cannabis Act to the licensee is amended, suspended or revoked;
  • the licensee becomes bankrupt;
  • the licensee no longer meets the eligibility or any other requirements to possess the cannabis licence;
  • the licensee ceases to carry on the business or activities for which the licence was issued;
  • the licensee acts to defraud Her Majesty;
  • access to the premises of the licensee is denied or impeded by any person; or
  • it is otherwise in the public interest for the licence to be cancelled.

Notice of cancellation and recourse

Under subsection 12(2) of the Regulations, before a licence is cancelled, written notice is sent by the CRA to the licensee 90 days before the proposed cancellation, along with all relevant information concerning the grounds for the proposed cancellation. Written notice is not provided if the licensee requested that their licence be cancelled.

When a licence is cancelled, the licensee can no longer carry on any activities that were specified under that licence and the licensee can no longer possess stamped or unstamped cannabis products.

Pursuant to subsection 12(3) of the Regulations, a person who has received notice of the proposed cancellation of their licence may, within 90 days from the date of the notice, make representations to the CRA regarding why the licence should not be cancelled.

The CRA will review the representations and confirm its decision in writing.

Upon cancellation of a licence, any security that has been posted by the licensee that is in excess of any liabilities of the licensee to pay cannabis duty or, where applicable, additional cannabis duty will be returned to the licensee.

Transitional rules

To facilitate the implementation, application, administration and enforcement of the proposed excise duty framework for cannabis products, Bill C-74 includes transitional provisions related to the proposed cannabis licensing requirements.

Under the proposed transitional rules, the CRA will accept applications and conditionally approve cannabis licences before the proposed amendments to the Act receive Royal Assent. However, the effective date of the cannabis licence would be the commencement day under the Act.

Commencement day is the day that cannabis would no longer be listed in Schedule II to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In effect, it is the legalization date of cannabis.

Further information

For all technical publications related to the Excise Act, 2001 and its regulations, go to Excise duties technical information under the Excise Act, 2001.

To request an excise duty licence for cannabis products, contact your regional excise office. These offices are listed at Contact Information – Excise Duties, Excise Taxes, Fuel Charge and Air Travellers Security Charge.

For all enquiries on the application of excise duty to cannabis products, call 1-866-330-3304 (option 1) or send an email to cannabis@cra-arc.gc.ca.

To request a ruling or interpretation related to the application of excise duty to cannabis products, write to:

Excise Duties and Taxes Division
Excise and GST/HST Rulings Directorate
Canada Revenue Agency
Place de Ville Tower A 11th floor
320 Queen St
Ottawa ON  K1A 0L5

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