Health Canada looking at drone and satellite tech for outdoor cannabis inspections

| David Brown

A recent departmental report from Health Canada for 2019–2020 makes mention of several aspects of the regulator’s efforts with cannabis legalization, including reference to a pilot project using satellite technology to inspect licensed outdoor cannabis operations, as well as one involving drones for site inspection. 

The report, which contains several other references to the regulator’s efforts on the cannabis legalization and regulation file, says the drone project, dubbed the Hummingbird project, has already undergone two successful test flights. No additional information was available on the satellite inspection program.

Other cannabis-related highlights from the report:

  • 425 inspections and 381 compliance verifications with an overall industry compliance rate of 98% with controls established under the Cannabis Act.
  • In 2019-20, 7,662 new product notices were submitted by processing licence holders to Health Canada, as mandated by the Cannabis Regulations.
  • The Department has been issuing licences at an average rate of 17 per month since May 2019 compared to an average of 3 per month prior to October 2018 (licenses issued under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations). The regulator expects to release a target for the percentage of Canadians aged 15-24 who have used cannabis in the last 12 months as well as a date to achieve that target by December 31, 2020. The current baseline is 25.5% in 2016-17 [17.5% of Canadians aged 15-17 and 28.4% of Canadians aged 18-24]. As a reference, the baseline for the percentage of Canadians aged 15+ who have used any tobacco product in the past 30 days was 17.4% in 2015-16. The target is 5% by March 31, 2035.

Related: BC-based company using drones for outdoor cannabis management