The law legalizing the production and sale of edible cannabis, as well as cannabis topicals and extracts, came into effect October 17, 2019. While these products are now legal, they won’t be hitting retail store shelves until mid-December, as Health Canada has implemented a notification system whereby licensed processors are required to notify Health Canada at least 60 calendar days before making new cannabis products available for sale. Therefore, a limited selection of edible cannabis products will only begin to hit physical retail stores or online sites no earlier than mid-December 2019, with product range and inventory gradually expanding over time. With the excitement and anticipation ramping up, the most common question being asked is, “How can I get my cannabis edibles on retail store shelves?”. Since the answer isn’t as simple as opening up a home bakery, the experts at CLE are here to tell you how!
The first step to getting on retail store shelves with your cannabis edibles product is to secure a Processing licence. A Processing licence is required to manufacture cannabis-based products such as edibles, topicals and extracts. Currently, Health Canada offers two variations of the Processing licence; Standard Processing and Micro-Processing. The Micro-Processing Licence is generally reserved for smaller manufacturers, as it only permits up to 600 kg of dried flower (or the equivalent) to be handled each year. This option is ideal for businesses that do not intend on expanding their market reach in the near future. The Standard Processing licence functions much like the Micro-Processing Licence, but there is no limit on the amount of cannabis product your business can handle each year. You can manufacture, sell, and distribute an unlimited amount of cannabis with this licence. Both Processing licences allow for the sale and distribution of cannabis products to other licence holders or to provincial and territorial retailers. It is important to note that Processing licences do not allow for the cultivation or harvesting of cannabis plants. These activities are covered under Health Canada’s Cultivation licences.
When a Processing licence is issued by Health Canada, it will initially have conditions placed upon it which will limit the activities that may be conducted by the licence holder, such as sale to authorized retailers and medical patients. Therefore, the next step will be to apply for an amendment of the licence to get the conditions removed so that your processing business will be authorized to sell cannabis products (such as dried cannabis and/or fresh cannabis, cannabis topicals, cannabis extracts or cannabis edibles, to provincially and territorially authorized retailers and/or holders of a licence for sale for medical purposes).An inspection by Health Canada may also be required before you receive your amended processing licence with conditions removed.
Each time a new product is developed, a notification must be provided to Health Canada at least 60 calendar days before making that new product available for sale (as is required by section 244 of the Cannabis Regulations). Based on the class(es) of cannabis being requested, certain documentation will need to be submitted for the specified number of representative lots/batches of cannabis products (i.e. packaged and labelled for sale to a consumer at the retail level). This is ultimately how your cannabis products will end up on retail store shelves.
It is important to keep in mind that each provincial or territorial government is responsible for regulating the possession, consumption and sale of all cannabis products in their respective province or territory. Since recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada back in 2018, we have seen the provinces’ approaches and attitudes toward their respective frameworks continue to evolve and change. This means that, while the above requirements will serve as baseline rules, the province or territory where your organization intends on selling may or may not decide to enact stricter requirements when it comes to the cannabis products they choose to sell. For example, in Quebec, while edible cannabis products will be legal as of December 5, people will have to wait until January 1st to get access to them through the province’s legal retailer, Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC). It will certainly take more time before a solid understanding is reached and a full range of products becomes available.
How we can help you
At Cannabis License Experts, we provide you with the guidance to plan your business, acquire funding, navigate the legal requirements, and acquire the appropriate licence(s) for your operations. As the Canadian cannabis industry develops, more and more licensed producers will be needed to meet the demands of consumers. Cannabis License Experts offers support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, site audits, SOPs and more! Our Edibles Compliance division can provide you with a solid plan to help get your edibles products on store shelves. Contact us today to discover how we can license and legalize your cannabis business to meet federal or provincial regulations.