Medical vs Recreational
Like medical cannabis, the recreational cannabis industry will be highly regulated with regards to security and quality assurance, but storefront sale of recreational cannabis is permitted.
The medical vs recreational cannabis systems will co-exist and, to some degree, compete with one another, both becoming “cannabis for commercial purposes.” The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), and its predecessor Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), prohibited the sale of cannabis in person (i.e., storefront), and this prohibition remains in place for medical cannabis. Under the Cannabis Act, however, recreational cannabis, will be permitted for storefront sale, subject to authorization under provincial and territorial legislation. Pharmacies are expected to get pre-packaged medical cannabis sales (with the possibility of dispensing in the near future).
The take-home message for recreational cultivation is that standards of production are the same as on the medical side. Facilities require extensive security monitoring and video storage and the production areas have to be virtually sterile. Licensed producers under the medical system are permitted to cultivate and sell recreational product through the distribution channels approved by provincial and territorial governments. Our team has helped many companies and startup groups ready their business for the cultivation application process.
It should also be stressed that Canada is not going back to the old designated grow-op system from years ago. Health Canada does not want tens of thousands of facilities to monitor. They are looking for professional commercial production facilities that will be responsible in running their business. Significant security clearances, pharmaceutical standards of production, and air-tight record keeping are all required for any cannabis production facility, whether it be supplying the recreational or medical market (or both). Health Canada will inspect recreational producers regularly for compliance – e.g., every month, as they do now on the medical side.