Boutique cannabis strains courtesy of “micro-cultivators” could be coming to a Canadian licensed producer near you, according to the Liberal government’s proposed cannabis regulations released on Tuesday.
Canadians have until Jan. 20 to provide feedback on the proposed regulations, which could allow for both craft cannabis producers and low-risk offenders to participate in the industry, as well as offer leeway on product packaging.
"This proposed regulatory approach is informed by the extensive consultations to date, and it supports our overarching goal of protecting public health and safety," said Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor in a statement.
"We look forward to hearing the views of Canadians from across the country."
The regulations provide a tentative structure for the federal government’s involvement in the production and distribution of cannabis come July 1, 2018.
That involvement would cover areas including: licensing, security clearances, cannabis tracking, cannabis products, packaging and labelling, medical marijuana and health and cosmetic products that use cannabis.
The regulations also suggest federal interest in expanding the number and types of products available to consumers.
"Additional product forms could include, for example, pre-rolled cannabis and vaporization cartridges manufactured with dried cannabis," the regulations say.
"Product forms for cannabis oil, such as cannabis oil capsules, oral sprays, and cannabis oil intended for topical application, would continue to be permitted."
There is no limit on the number of wide-ranging permits the government will issue for businesses invested in cultivation, processing, sales, testing, research, and importing and exporting.
Perhaps most intriguingly, the government has unveiled guidelines for “micro-cultivators”, or growers who would be able to produce on a small scale similarly to craft beer producers.
These growers would be able to produce boutique strains that they could sell to micro-processors or large-scale producers, who would then sell them to the public or other federally licensed producers.
Micro-processors "will be able to participate in the market through provincial sellers," said MP Bill Blair, the government's head legalization official. "The provinces will be able to obtain from any licensed producer within their jurisdiction."
There’s no indication in the proposals that cannabis products will need to come in plain or generic packaging, but there must be "strict limits on the use of colours, graphics, and other special characteristics of packaging to curtail the appeal of products to youth.”
Cannabis packaging will also have to contain health warnings similar to those seen on tobacco products, as well as display THC levels and be tamper- and child-resistant.
The federal government also suggests it’s open to allowing Canadians who have been convicted of nonviolent or low-risk crimes – like cannabis possession – to participate in the industry, but they want to hear from the public on this matter.
"We have over 500,000 Canadians with minor drug offences on their criminal records," Petitpas Taylor said. "We're just asking the question: should these people with a small amount of personal possession, should they be excluded from the market or should we consider them."
The proposals also include a cannabis tracking system to make sure cannabis grown for the legal market doesn’t end up in the black market.
You can have your say on the proposals either through an online questionnaire or by providing a written submission before Jan. 20.
h/t CBC News