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Cannabis in Canada: The State of the Law Today

UPDATE: As of April 13, 2018, every province and territory in Canada had tabled legislation outlining their plans for regulating cannabis. Our primer has been updated to include proposed legislation details from across the country.

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Federal Government Releases its Proposed Approach to Cannabis Regulations

On November 21, 2017, Health Canada released its proposed approach to the regulation of cannabis in anticipation of legalization in July 2018. The proposal addressed seven broad areas relating to cannabis activities: (i) licensing and permitting; (ii) security and security clearances; (iii) cannabis tracking; (iv) cannabis products; (v) packaging and labelling; (vi) cannabis for medical purposes and (vii) health products and cosmetics with cannabis. 

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Quebec Introduces the Quebec Cannabis Regulation Act

On November 16, 2017, the Government of Quebec released its proposed cannabis legislation, Bill 157, an act to constitute the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (the SQC), to enact the Cannabis Regulation Act and to amend various highway safety-related provisions (the Act). The Act elaborates on the Quebec Government’s plan to establish the SQC, a subsidiary of the Société des alcools du Québec, as the sole distributor of cannabis in the province. If passed, the Act will lay the foundations for a stricter cannabis regime as compared with other provinces.

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Manitoba Announces Distribution and Retail Model for Cannabis in the Province

On November 7, 2017 the Premier of Manitoba announced the proposed model of cannabis distribution throughout the province when the Federal Cannabis Act comes into force on July 1, 2018. Unlike the Ontario and Quebec models, whereby the liquor control bodies in each province have been designated as distributors and retailers of cannabis, the model in Manitoba is considered a hybrid retail and distribution, carving out roles for both the public and private sector.

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Ontario Introduces the Ontario Cannabis Act, 2017

On November 1, 2017, the Government of Ontario released its proposed cannabis legislation, Bill 174, Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act (the Act). The substance of this bill is Ontario’s Cannabis Act, 2017, but the bill also details amendments to related legislation in the form of a new Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017 and amended Highway Traffic Act. If passed, the Act would regulate the use and distribution of recreational cannabis in Ontario upon the enacting of the federal Cannabis Act in July 2018.

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Standing Committee on Health Approves Amendments to Bill C-45 Regarding Cannabis Edibles and Concentrates

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017 the Standing Committee on Health (the HESA) approved a number of amendments to Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act (the Act).Two specific amendments will likely have a considerable impact on the recreational cannabis market:  

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Federal Government Introduces its Cannabis Tax Proposal; Alberta Unveils Proposed Provincial Framework

On Tuesday, October 3, 2017 the Government of Canada unveiled its proposal for a federal excise tax on the sale of cannabis. Under the proposal, a $1 tax would be levied on prices up to and including $10 per gram and a 10% tax would be levied on prices over $10 per gram. The proposal is for the tax revenues to be evenly split between the Federal and Provincial Governments.

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Liquor Control Board to Distribute Cannabis in Quebec

On September 29, 2017, government sources confirmed to Radio-Canada that Quebec's liquor board, the Société des alcools du Québec or Quebec Alcohol Corporation (SAQ), will oversee the distribution of recreational cannabis in the province following legalization in July 2018. Sources also confirmed that the legal age to purchase cannabis in Quebec will be set at 18, aligning it with both the mandatory minimum age proposed by the Government of Canada in Bill C-45 and with the province’s minimum drinking age. 

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Have Your Say on Possible Changes to the Food and Drug Regulations: Generic Drug Equivalence and Related Terminology

Health Canada is soliciting input on possible changes to the Food and Drug Regulations regarding establishing pharmaceutical equivalence between a proposed generic drug product and the Canadian Reference Product ("CRP"). These proposed changes are intended to better harmonize the framework with the practices of other major regulatory bodies. Consultations, which are the first in a series of consultations, will be open until October 13, 2017

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Major changes to Canada's intellectual property and patent landscape with the implementation of CETA

September 21, 2017 marks the provisional entering into force of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement ("CETA") between Canada and the European Union, and concurrently the coming into force of Bill C-30, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act  (the "CETA Implementation Act"), an act which implements Canada's obligations under CETA.

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LCBO to Control Retail and Online Cannabis Sales in Ontario

Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General, Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance and Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announced Ontario’s planned approach to the federal legalization of cannabis as proposed by Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, this morning. Bill C-45 left significant discretion to the provinces for determining the appropriate distribution, sale and retailing of cannabis.

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An Overview of Q2 2017 Healthcare Deal Activity in Canada

A look at the current healthcare landscape in Canada, including financing, mergers & acquisitions, notable transactions and big announcements.

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Ontario Conducts Public Consultation on Cannabis Legalization

On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada released Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, which, as discussed in a prior blog post, deferred significant discretion to the provinces with respect to the distribution, sale and retailing of cannabis.

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SCC Rejects Promise Doctrine in Seminal Pharmaceutical Patent Case

The Supreme Court of Canada’s (the “Court” or the “SCC”) recent judgment in AstraZeneca Canada Inc. v Apotex Inc., (2017 SCC 36, “AstraZeneca v Apotex”) released on June 30, 2017, constitutes an important paradigm shift in Canadian patent law. As described in greater detail below, the SCC has rejected the “promise of the patent” doctrine (the “Promise Doctrine”), a doctrine which has been a unique and fundamental principle in Canadian patent law, used to determine if the subject matter claimed in a patent is useful, as required by section 2 of the Patent Act.

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Cameron Mingay Discusses Potential Marijuana Supply Crunch with Bloomberg

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada slated to occur within the next 12 months, a looming concern is whether Canada's supply will meet its demand. In a recent Bloomberg article, Cameron Mingay discusses practical realities associated with ramping up legal marijuana production in Canada.

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Alternative Financing Options in the Cannabis Industry

The recent developments in Canadian cannabis policy and legislation have sparked significant investment in licensed cannabis producers. Until recently, equity financing has been the primary form of financing, with Canadian cannabis companies raising approximately $1 billion over the past twelve months.

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Regulatory Change to Address Antimicrobial Resistance

On May 17th 2017, Health Canada announced changes to the Food and Drug Regulations regarding the use of antimicrobial drugs in animals. These changes, along with other ongoing initiatives, aim to address the increasing health concern posed by antimicrobial resistance. Microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) could develop resistance after exposure to antimicrobial drugs and render medicines ineffective against infections. This resistance increases the risk of infections in many important medical procedures such as organ transplantation, chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery.

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Disclosure Requirements for Non-Venture Issuers Regarding Women in Board and Executive Officer Positions – A Review

On June 7, 2017, the Canadian news cycle addressed cannabis industry insider criticism at the dearth of women on boards and in senior management positions at Canadian cannabis companies, with reports suggesting that 5% of board seats at publicly traded marijuana producers are occupied by women.

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Major Changes Proposed to Canada's Patented Medicines Regulations

On May 16, 2017, the Federal Minister of Health, the Hon. Jane Philpott announced a number of proposed regulatory changes to the Patented Medicines Regulations (the "Regulations"). The proposed regulations are being implemented with the primary intent of "protecting Canadians from excessive drug prices"1. The proposed modernization framework constitutes the most significant suite of regulatory changes in twenty years. As noted in our blog post dated July 1, 2016, these proposed changes are part of ongoing reform to Canada's regulatory framework relating to patented drug prices. 

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Health Canada Improvements to the Licensing of Cannabis Production under the ACMPR

On May 26, 2017, Health Canada announced significant developments to the licensing process under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). As the medical cannabis industry continues to evolve, the Government of Canada has updated its licensing regime in order to streamline the process and enable increased production.

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