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Cannabis Act passes in Canada without controversial amendments

Authored byAlice Tseng and Graham Hood

After an unpredictable few weeks, Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018, and adult use cannabis will be legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018. Canada will be only the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to permit adult use cannabis at a federal level. The delay until October 17, 2018 is intended to provide sufficient time for provinces and territories to prepare for this new regime, which will permit consumers to purchase cannabis from both brick-and-mortar stores and online.

The bill ultimately passed without some of the more controversial amendments originally approved by the Senate on June 7, 2018, including:

  1. affording provinces and territories the right to ban home cultivation. This remains a controversial issue, as the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba are still planning on banning home cultivation. However, without the explicit authority to do so under the Cannabis Act, any such ban may give rise to legal challenges in the provincial courts in due course;
  2. prohibiting cannabis “brand elements” from being displayed on merchandise and other “things”; and
  3. establishing a public registry that would list key individuals associated with a cannabis license or permit holder (e.g. directors, officers, certain shareholders).

Final regulations to the Cannabis Act are expected to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II: Official regulations soon, and will likely be similar to the proposals set out in the Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis: Summary of Comments Received During the Public Consultation (March 19, 2018). The federal government has said it will not pre-publish draft regulations to ensure the Cannabis Act can come into force in a timely manner.

Smart & Biggar will be closely monitoring the implementation of this historic new law, and will provide timely updates as this matter unfolds. If you have any questions about the above, please contact the Cannabis Practice Group.

The preceding is intended as a timely update on Canadian intellectual property and technology law. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. To obtain such advice, please communicate with our offices directly.