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Health Canada offers updates on temporary measures for cannabis industry during COVID-19

In response to ongoing Covid-19-related issues, Health Canada has issued another update to their current policies to support cannabis licence holders this week. 

The announcement, released Thursday, provides an updated on two previous memos, one from March 24 and another from April 30, 2020 that made adjustments to certain federal requirements that reflect some of the logistical challenges Covid presents to the industry. 

Health Canada had previously made changes to their regulations for issues like licence amendments and renewals, security clearances, allowances for site-related activities and authorized persons, as well as how licence inspections occur, among other changes. 

The most recent announcement provides some updates on timelines for some of these changes, with some temporary adjustments coming to an end in July, while others are remaining in place until September 30, 2020.

Security Clearances, Temporary Alllowances

Earlier this year, Health Canada had acknowledged the logistical issues surrounding stay-at-home measures, employee health, and the possibility of some key positions at some licence holders possibly being unable to visit the facility. In order to address these concerns, the regulator had temporarily allowed licence holders to temporarily designate alternative security-clearance personnel in instances where the primary security clearance personnel would be unable to be on site. 

Since Covid-related cases are decreasing across the country, Health Canada says they will now be phasing out this allowance, which will come to an end on July 31, 2020. For those licence holders who want to keep any of their temporarily designated individuals, they will need to have a formal application filed by July 31, 2020. The federal regulator will also be phasing out their allowance for temporarily designated alternates along the same timeline. 

Inspections

Health Canada will be maintaining their current, temporary approach for site and facility inspections, replacing on-site visits for sales amendments with what they are calling Compliance Promotion sessions with Health Canada inspectors, and the possibility of a paper-based review and/or virtual inspections. 

The Compliance Promotion sessions must be attended by the key individuals as listed in the application, such as the Responsible Person, Quality Assurance Person, and their alternates. 

2019 Annual Promotions Report

In addition, the regulator notes they will continue to prioritize amendment requests that support existing licence holders. The allowance of a virtual witnessing of product destruction, rather than in-person, and the deadline for the 2019 Annual Promotions Report, the packaging and labelling adjustment, and the flexibility regarding import/export permits are now extended until September 30, 2020. The deadline was originally until June 30.

About Author

David Brown writes about cannabis policy and industry stuff and lives in British Columbia. He likes plants.