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Cannabis in Canada: The State of the Law

October 17, 2018, marks a historic day in the evolution of cannabis regulations both domestically and abroad. As the first state in the G20 to regulate recreational cannabis, Canada has become the international leader in the development of sensible and progressive policies governing the cultivation, processing, sale and possession of cannabis.

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British Columbia Introduces Regulatory Framework for Cannabis

On April 26, 2018 the Government of British Columbia announced the introduction of its proposed regulatory framework for recreational cannabis. The province’s proposed framework includes Bill 30, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (Bill 30), which itself includes consequential amendments to other statutes including the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, the Residential Tenancies Act, the Police Act, the Community Safety Act, and the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, among others, Bill 31, the Cannabis Distribution Act (Bill 31), and Bill 17, the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2018 (Bill 17). Collectively, Bills 17, 30, and 31, if passed, would establish a comprehensive legislative framework for regulating the licensing, distribution, purchase, sale, consumption, and enforcement of non-medical cannabis in British Columbia.

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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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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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Strategies for Issuers with Cannabis-Related Activities in the U.S.

On August 17, 2017, the TMX Group issued a statement announcing that it has engaged with the Canadian Securities Administrators regarding the clearing of securities of issuers with cannabis-related activities (including assets and operations) in the U.S. Although the TMX Group’s general position on companies engaging in such activities has been a source of speculation and uncertainty for some time, the announcement highlighted specific uncertainty about whether the TMX Group, which is the parent company of The Canadian Depository for Securities Limited ("CDS"), might make the securities of issuers with cannabis-related activities in the U.S. ineligible for clearing and settlement through CDSX. Although no such action has been taken or articulated, such action could materially impede the ability to trade in the securities of issuers with cannabis-related activities in the U.S. and thus have a chilling effect on the listing and financing of such issuers.

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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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