Health Canada roundtable pt. 1: cannabis licenses, micro-grows, genetics, and edibles

In mid-December, Health Canada held a roundtable on cannabis legalization in Vancouver at Canada Place, and this article takes a closer look at the big issues discussed that day, exploring:

  • The federally proposed cannabis licences (which includes different categories for cultivation, processing, and selling to the public)
  • The size of micro-grows
  • The importance of getting genetic diversity into the legal system
  • The one-year delay on edibles

In part 2, we’ll look at retail, concentration limits, interprovincial trade barriers, and the future of medicinal cannabis.

Legal expert Kirk Tousaw live-tweeted the event, which brought together cannabis groups such as the Cannabis Growers of Canada and the Craft Cannabis Association of BC.

Health Canada‘s proposed cannabis licences

The government broke down the proposed federal licences into three main categories:

  • Cultivation Licences
    1. Standard Cultivation
    2. Micro-Cultivation
    3. Nursery
    4. Industrial Hemp licences
  • Processing Licences
    1. Standard Processing
    2. Micro-Processing
  • Sale to Public
    1. Medical
    2. Non-medicalProposed Federal Licenses

During the discussion on licences, it was nice to find out that Health Canada is leaving the door open for growers to well, grow, meaning they can upgrade their licence if their production increases in the future.

It’s also possible to hold multiple licences, but the one thing the government wants to avoid is gamesmanship in the licencing system.

[Editor’s Note: in the tweets above, “HC” refers to Health Canada]


The Standard Cultivation Licence is for large scale producers such as the licensed producers who currently cultivate cannabis for the medicinal regime. The Micro-Cultivation Licence is meant for smaller producers- like Canada’s many craft cannabis growers.

For the Nursery Licence, one of the main intents is to increase the genetic diversity, as Kirk Tousaw’s tweet from the roundtable explains below:


For Processing Licences, there are two options- a Standard Processing Licence and a Micro-Processing Licence- and it mostly focuses on the packaging, labeling, testing, and then making of products such as dried cannabis flower, fresh cannabis, and low potency THC oils.


The size of micro-grows was another much-discussed topic, and suggestions for the maximum size ranged from 10,000-20,000 square feet. 

Tanya from the Cannabis Growers of Canada was very concerned about the minimum size for micro-grows, saying that in some areas of BC it’s still prohibitively large. For more on that please see the CLN interview with Cannabis Growers of Canada’s leadership.

So far, Health Canada has not given any numbers, saying they need more information before decisions are made.

Importance of genetic diversity

Health Canada realizes that what’s available in the legal regime is just not good enough- that the craft and micro-growers’ products and genetics are superior to that of the LP’s.

The genetic diversity in the “illicit” market is better than what you can get in the legal market, and the government knows this, but the issue is how can the government incorporate the ‘illegal’ diversity into the legal system?

Health Canada said it was looking at the gun amnesty program for inspiration on how to incorporate more genetics into the legal cannabis system.

On Edibles

Eric Costen, the director general of the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat, gave the government’s justification for the delay in legalizing cannabis edibles, saying that incorporating edibles into Canada’s food system was a huge regulatory challenge.

Stay tuned for Part 2

It’s coming soon, and in it we’ll take a look at:

  • Retail
  • Concentrations limits
  • Trade barriers
  • Medicinal cannabis’ future

Featured image courtesy of CBC.