Legalization of Cannabis in Canada

As of October 17, 2018, cannabis is legal in Canada for both recreational and medical use. If you want to know exactly what that means for you, there are plenty of articles available online to help you. Following are a few from Canada and around the world:

CBC News: Cannabis is legal in Canada — here's what you need to know

CNN: Canada just legalized recreational pot. Here's what you need to know

New York Times: Canada is Legalizing Marijuana. Here Are Some Questions, Answered.

What happens with my seed-to-sale software if regulations change?

The market for cannabis is evolving. Health Canada manages oversight and sets the compliance requirements for legal production of cannabis in Canada. In the last five years, these requirements have changed multiple times and are set to change again with the legalization of cannabis for recreational use on October 17, 2018. A responsible software vendor will ensure that all its clients have the information they need to comply with the latest Health Canada requirements.

With SaaS or cloud-based seed-to-sale platforms, software updates are usually global to all clients/users. On-site implementations sometimes require individual upgrades performed by the client in conjunction with the vendor. Often this means scheduling both parties, which can delay access to the latest features and functionality. If there are modifications for specific clients, this can mean a complicated upgrade path with the risk of unintended software bugs and related down time or additional costs to re-customize.

As you choose your seed-to-sale software solution, be sure to consider the future of compliance and those implications on your business. No one knows for sure what the future holds, but history has shown that the only true constant is change.

For more information, download our software buyer’s guide here: How to Purchase Seed-to-Sale Software

ACMPR and the licensed cannabis producer

What does ACMPR cover?

For the cannabis industry in Canada, the most critical compliance implications are those covered by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. This legislation covers every aspect of marijuana production and sale. Overseen by Health Canada, these regulations must be adhered to at every stage of cannabis business from propagation through to sale. As of August 24, 2016, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) replaced the previous Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).

ACMPR is designed to provide an immediate solution for Canada to meet legal requirements. But Health Canada is continuously evaluating how a system of medical access to cannabis should function alongside the government's commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis. As a result, laws and regulations may change.

Currently, the legislation contains four parts.

Part 1 sets out a framework for commercial production by licensed producers responsible for the production and distribution of quality-controlled fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil or starting materials (i.e., seeds and plants) in secure and sanitary conditions.

Part 2 sets out provisions for individuals to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce it for them.

Parts 3 and 4 include transitional provisions, consequential amendments to other regulations, and provisions repealing the MMPR.

All those wishing to produce cannabis in Canada must apply to Health Canada to become a licensed producer under the ACMPR legislation, and all licensed producers MUST comply with the ACMPR regulations.

What are the specific ACMPR regulations that affect software and record keeping?

The ACMPR has many regulations that apply to the medical marijuana industry in Canada as a whole. Not all of those have implications for record keeping or to the method (software) used for that record keeping. (For links to the different websites that cover ACMP download our Seed-to-Sale Software Buyer’s Guide.)

How do I meet ACMPR compliance?

To be ACMPR compliant, your organization must have ways of meeting all of the regulations listed above.

Many of the regulations listed above apply to processes, so you’ll need to be utilizing best practices and documented standard operating procedures. You’ll also need to be able to prove to Health Canada that you have used best practices. That’s where seed-to-sale software comes in. Your cannabis business management software should provide you with the means to meet compliance when it comes to record keeping and reporting.

To support you in this process, a viable software vendor will supply you with a document that outlines exactly how the system they provide meets those requirements.

For a free demo to learn how AirMed meets these and other regulations, please email info @

FREE Seed-to-sale Software Buyer's Guide

Record keeping is an essential part of Health Canada’s compliance regulations. From the advent of legal medical marijuana in Canada, legal producers of cannabis have been required to track every seed, rooted plant, gram of waste material, final dried product, as well as interactions with customers and more. Due to the sheer volume of information, an electronic record-keeping system is the only practical way to manage the process. The software industry has responded to this need by creating seed-to-sale management software systems designed to help producers track their operations and report to Health Canada to meet compliance.

To help you through the process of purchasing seed-to-sale software in the Canadian Cannabis marketplace, we've produced a 20-page guide that answers the following questions:

  • What is a seed-to-sale software solution and why do I need one?
  • How do I choose one software platform over another?
  • What should I be looking for in the software?
  • How does the software fit into my business?
  • How is my data stored and secured?
  • What happens if regulations change?

To download this guide courtesy of AirMed, please visit the following page and complete the form. Once you submit the form, you'll be able to download the guide.

AirMed Seed-to-Sale Software Buyer's Guide

Medical Marihuana in Canada: Where We Are Today

The legal use of marihuana for medical purposes in Canada has a long and complex history. Cannabis has been on the Schedule of the Opium and Narcotic Control Act since 1923. While proponents lobbied and commissions reviewed many times over several decades around the world, nothing significant happened with the legalization of cannabis until 1976 when the Netherlands effectively decriminalized the plant’s use. This set off a wave of activity that included one U.S. state recognizing the medical value of marihuana 1978. But the debate continued and most countries were reluctant to jump on the legalization bandwagon.

There was, however, no denying the health benefits, which were being documented in medical studies around the world and included:

  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Lessening of pain for sufferers of chronic conditions
  • Reducing muscle spasms of multiple scleroses and similar diseases
  • Treating glaucoma
  • Controlling the symptoms of seizure disorders such as Epilepsy and Dravet's Syndrome
  • Slowing the progress of Alzheimers

But Canada, along with many other countries, deferred to traditional thinking and waited for someone else to go first. That first came in 1996 when California became the first U.S. state to legalize marihuana for medical use.

With the precedent set, two Canadians acquired federal approval to smoke pot for health reasons — and the flood gates opened. By 2000 the court ruled that Canadians had a constitutional right to use cannabis as a medicine. The following year, the Canadian Medical Marihuana Access Regulations granted legal access to cannabis for those with a range of illnesses including HIV/AIDS. This effectively authorized qualified patients to grow their own pot or obtain it from authorized producers or from Health Canada. But marihuana is still a controlled substance in Canada and recreational use is still illegal. So the legalization for medical use created issues in relation to monitoring the qualification process and policing the growing/supplying process.

Confusion about what or who was legal and who or what was not made enforcement difficult for both the medical community and law enforcement. Many agencies felt that the controls that were in place were insufficient to prevent abuse of the system. But patients, doctors and growers officially had been told they had constitutional rights in this area.

The problem was that cannabis is unique — it’s not a pharmaceutical but can’t be considered an herbal supplement either because of its ‘controlled substance’ status. The issue was how the system could satisfy all the stakeholders, and there were several.

First, there were those who had a medical need for marihuana. Second, were the doctors who wanted to prescribe cannabis as a potential treatment for many diseases and conditions. Third were the growers who wished to supply the product in a legal way. And finally were the various agencies and police who were required to enforce the whole process.

In an attempt to satisfy everyone, the Federal government went back to the policy drawing board. And in 2013, new regulations were issued that changed the way Canadians could access and produce marihuana for medical purposes. Under the new rules, growing has been transferred to licensed producers who are required to meet strict compliance designed to prevent abuse of the system. Those rules include stringent monitoring of production and distribution. This not only affects the growers, but the patients as well since the producers must prove that their products are going only to those who have legitimate prescriptions. The easiest way to do this in today’s technological world is with a Web-based ordering system and product being distributed by mail.

While these changes are causing some confusion and disruption, they are designed to satisfy the needs of all concerned from the Federal government down through law enforcement to growers and the individual patient.

Once patients understand their responsibilities under the new system, they should find accessing the medical marihuana they need as simple as buying a book online.

Once producers develop systems for tracking growth and distribution, they should be able to meet the new regulations easily.

Once law enforcement agencies see the results, they should feel more confident that the system is not being abused.

With the advent of new laws governing recreational cannabis, the industry will change again very soon.