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Hemp Restrictions Loosened in Canada

Canada has issued an exemption to its Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that simplifies the application for an industrial hemp license.

The licensing application process to grow, process, and distribute industrial hemp in Canada has been simplified after Health Canada recently announced it was issuing an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The changes apply to the license application process for the 2017 growing season.

Among the most significant changes mandated by the Section 56 Class Exemption is that now one industrial hemp license will cover all industrial hemp sites and activities. Rather than the department issuing separate licenses for each hemp-related activity, a single license will grant Canadians the right to import, export, produce, possess, process, breed, test, sell and distribute industrial hemp.

Another notable change is the elimination of a requirement that the grain and fiber of hemp crops be tested for the active compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The THC testing requirement now only applies to cultivars of hemp for certified seed, or if producers hope to include an industrial hemp variety of the List of Approved Cultivars (LOAC).

In the announcement, Health Canada noted that the move “better aligns regulation of industrial hemp with the demonstrated low public health and safety risk of the crop.”

“The Exemption is an interim measure to simplify the license application process as the Government moves forward with its commitment to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” the department’s statement reads.

The Canadian government is expected to legalize recreational marijuana in the coming year, a move that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau believes will improve public health. A legal marijuana market is estimated to generate $23 billion in sales.

CBD hemp oil products

Also included in the regulatory and licensing changes announced by Health Canada is that growers can apply for and receive cultivation licenses without having to first pre-identify planting sites. Now growers just must submit a “notification of cultivation of Industrial Hemp” to the Office of Controlled Substances within 15 days of seeding. The department has also removed any minimum acreage requirement for hemp cultivation.

The regulation changes come on the heels of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) putting pressure on Health Canada in its efforts to free up the industry and expand its potential. Late November, the CHTA issued a statement criticizing the department’s overly strict regulatory controls, claiming that they cause Canadian hemp farmers to “[miss] out on a potential billion dollar market opportunity.”

“It looks like our message was heard by the Prime Minister,” a source told HempToday.net. “He simply walked across the hall and ordered the Minister of Health Canada to fix it.”

Canadians over 18 years of age that are interested in obtaining an industrial hemp license must submit to the Office of Controlled Substances an application for an industrial hemp license and a notification of cultivation of industrial hemp. The new exemption now allows for materials to be submitted electronically through email.

A criminal background check will be issued, and any drug offenses in the last 10 years will result in a denied application.

You can read Health Canada’s official “Notice to Industry” here.

Learn about Canada’s current cannabis laws through our education page.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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