Cannabis Processing License

Those looking to conduct finished product packaging of dried flower or manufacture and package cannabis-based products (e.g. edibles, extracts, topicals) are required to hold a Processing license. Currently under the Cannabis Regulations, there are two variations of the Processing licence; Standard Processing and Micro-Processing.

Variations of the Processing License

The Micro-Processing Licence

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. Keep in mind, micro-processors who also have a micro-cultivation licence are permitted to process more than the 600 kg cap, given that they are processing the cannabis cultivated from their own site

Prerequisites For License

Regardless of which licence you choose, Standard or Micro-Processing, a prerequisite to being licensed is that a production-ready facility must be built prior to submitting a licence application to Health Canada. This requirement was announced in May 2019 and replaced the former two-step review process, which included an extensive assessment of a paper application with feedback from Health Canada, followed by submission of a site evidence package for review. The site evidence package used to be one of the final steps in proving a facility was operationally ready – but now, it is one of the first.

Deciding Between Standard Processing and Micro-Processing

When deciding between Standard Processing and Micro-Processing, it’s also important to consider the future of your cannabis business. If you know there is potential for growth and expansion, it may be wise to secure a Standard Processing Licence and proceed with operations in a phased approach, rather than pursuing a Micro-Processing licence and then having to upgrade later to a Standard Processing licence.

Expanding in a phased manner could definitely save some time and effort in the future, because the amendment that will need to be submitted to Health Canada will be a simpler application than changing licence subclasses.

License Overview

Who is A Processing License For?

  • A Processing license is ideal for anyone looking to work with cannabis and its derivatives, such as oil, wax, hash, butter, and other extracts.
  • The Cannabis Act and Regulations have opened up many possibilities for established businesses – such as those in the food and beverage, wellness, and personal care sectors – to expand into the legal cannabis market, as the production of edible cannabis and topical cannabis products is now legal.
  • A Processing License would allow for exactly that, with large companies requiring the Standard Processing license, and smaller outfits better suited to the Micro-Processing license.
  • Micro-Cultivation License holders might also consider growing their operations by applying for a Micro-Processing License, to be able to conduct finished product packaging of their dried flower and expand into the edibles, extracts and topicals industry.

What Can You Do With A Processing License?

What Isn’t Covered Under A Processing License?

Both Standard and Micro-Processing Licenses permit the holder to produce, retain, sell and distribute cannabis – but only within the guidelines that the license’s terms provide for (described above).

    These licenses do not authorize the holder to give the general public any kind of access to the cannabis, or cannabis materials, that they work with. Furthermore, cultivation is not permitted with a Processing licence. For that, you would require a Cultivation (Standard, Micro, Nursery) license.

    Cannabis Processing License Requirements

    Cannabis Processing License Requirements

    Additional Standard Processing Requirements

    • Access controls are required around operations areas, and a record must be made of everyone who exits and enters from storage areas.
    • The site perimeter, operations areas, and storage areas are required to be monitored by visual recording devices at all times to detect and record any unauthorized attempts, successful or unsuccessful, to access the site.
    • The site perimeter, operations areas, and storage areas must have an intrusion detection system operating 24/7 to discover any unauthorized attempts to access the site or tamper with the system. It must also be possible to detect unauthorized movement within operations and storage areas.
    • The intrusion detection system is required to be monitored at all times, and the license holder is responsible for determining what measures are appropriate in response to any incidents. In cases of an incident, the holder must retain a document that contains the date and time of the occurrence, how it was responded to, and the date and time of when that response took place.

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