pesticides change flavour

Health Canada wants feedback on possible Cannabis Act amendments. This proposal is separate from the federal government’s legislative review of the Cannabis Act. 

The Cannabis Act, of course, legalizes and regulates cannabis in Canada. 

Health Canada put out a notice of intent for consultation. The purpose is to “inform Canadians and interested parties that Health Canada is seeking feedback on potential amendments to the Cannabis Regulations (CR) for regulatory burden reduction while still addressing public health and public safety risks.”

What a rollercoaster of emotions. Hearing Health Canada talks about “regulatory burden reduction” but then followed by the obligatory “public health” and “public safety risks.”

One struggles to find any “public safety risks” that exist for cannabis but not for alcohol. Ergo, the cannabis regime in Canada should be as open and accessible as alcohol, at the very least.

And since booze is regulated provincially, there’s a number one issue for Cannabis Act amendments. I’m sure industry stakeholders are already providing feedback regarding excise taxes.

Health Canada wants feedback on some Cannabis Act amendments? Well, let’s give it to them.

Health Canada Wants Feedback on Cannabis Act Amendments

What is Health Canada looking to amend in the Cannabis Act? According to their proposal,

(1) streamline and clarify existing requirements; (2) eliminate inefficiencies in the regulations, such as duplications between requirements; and (3) reduce administrative and regulatory burdens where possible, while continuing to meet the public health and public safety objectives in the Act.

They then break these regulatory amendments into five areas:

  1. Licensing;
  2. Personnel and physical security measures;
  3. Production requirements for cannabis products;
  4. Packaging and labelling requirements for cannabis products; and
  5. Record keeping and reporting for cannabis licence holders.

Because this is an internal amendment and not a legislative review, the focus and scope of Health Canada must continue to meet the “public health and public safety objectives” of the Act.

So this is less about undoing the damage of Canada’s cannabis regulations and more about incorporating new data into their “public health” models.

As the notice of intent says,

[T]he legal cannabis industry has matured, the marketplace has evolved, and there is increased knowledge and data on public health and public safety risks associated with certain activities. Based on the implementation experience gained since the coming into force of the Act, and in keeping with the original policy principles, Health Canada recognizes there may be regulatory measures that could be made more efficient and streamlined without compromising the public health and public safety objectives in the Act.

Does Health Canada Really Want My Opinion? 

Although Health Canada says “all input is welcome,” they’re mainly interested in feedback on regulatory measures that are “duplicative, redundant, or particularly onerous, and where there are opportunities to promote efficiencies.”

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that duplicative, redundant inefficiencies are hallmarks of government bureaucracy. In the private sector, prices are the signals entrepreneurs use to allocate efficiency.

Without prices, without the ability to withdraw payment, without a competitive agency to take away jobs, resources, and customers – Health Canada, like all government bureaus, has redundancy built into them.

As Ludwig von Mises said, “Bureaucratic management is management of affairs which cannot be checked by economic calculation.”

Appraising effort in terms of money may seem “barbaric” or “reactionary” to those who’d instead read Karl Marx than Thomas Sowell. But for the rest of us living in reality, resources are scarce and require allocation.

Do we allocate according to the spontaneous order of the market, where one can grow rich by providing goods and services people want? Where the mass of consumers are ultimately in charge?

Or do we allocate resources according to the dictates of a bureaucracy, where the buck stops at the prime minister’s office? (At least officially).

Health Canada on Cannabis Amendments: Licensing

Health Canada Cannabis Amendments 

Health Canada asks, “Are there any activities with cannabis that are not currently authorized under existing licences that could be authorized?” Going on to ask whether changes would lead to greater efficiencies.

They ask what measures they could take to increase flexibility for licensed producers and reduce the burden on the Quality Assurance Person.

And they ask if there are any activities that organizations can do without a license or permit—of course, keeping in mind the “public health” spirit of the Act.

But how does one define public health? According to the Cannabis Act, it includes: protecting young people by restricting their access to cannabis and from “inducements” to use cannabis. Public health also means reducing illicit cannabis production and providing a quality-controlled supply of cannabis.

In that sense, Health Canada would be wise to streamline and reduce the regulatory burden on the cannabis industry by getting out of the business altogether.

Licensing and quality assurance are services better provided by people whose reputation is on the line. If a private assurance company licenses and approves mouldy weed, how long will it stay in business?

Meanwhile, if Health Canada messes up, they get more funding. Any problem with government bureaucracy always comes back to a “not enough funding” argument despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Health Canada on Cannabis Amendments: Security

Health Canada Cannabis Amendments 

Like the above example, Health Canada’s cannabis amendments are issues that, in the private sector, would have long ago been dealt with.

Imagine if every industry in the country was like this. No wonder the Soviet Union ceased to exist. No wonder China opened their markets to the West.

Bureaucratic management is inefficient at its core. No amount of reform or amendments will change that.

So Health Canada asks: “Are there personnel security requirements that could be changed without increasing the risk of diversion or inversion of cannabis? What specific requirements, and for what classes and subclasses of licences? Why or why not?”

Asking us, the industry stakeholders, a question resembling a college exam.

What are the security requirements for a brewery? I worked at one once. It doubled as a restaurant. Take a wrong turn to the bathroom, and you end up in the brewhouse with a giant fermentation tank staring you down.

How does that square with mitigating “public safety risks.”

Of course, Health Canada (and many other bureaus) will apply the student-teacher relationship to real life. I’m sure many of them have never held a real job. They went from school right into working for the government.

So they see nothing wrong or insulting about how they’re going about this potential Cannabis Act amendment process.

It’s business as usual for people who’ve never worked in the private sector.

Health Canada on Cannabis Amendments: Production Requirements 

Health Canada Cannabis Amendments 

Health Canada’s potential cannabis amendments ask whether they could borrow from food, vaping or cosmetic regulations and apply them to cannabis.

“Why or why not?”

Of course, the big question is about THC limits.

Should the limits on the maximum quantity of delta-9-THC that can be contained in a cannabis product (by container and ingestible unit) apply to the sum total of all intoxicating cannabinoids found in the product? Why or why not? How could such a requirement be established in an efficient manner that is simple to comply with?

This question has assumptions built into it. Health Canada is looking for something other than reasonable answers. So allow me to answer a question with a question.

How do limits on THC protect the youth and eliminate the illicit market? Youth can’t buy legal weed, so what’s the purpose of capping legal weed? Underage consumers will go to the black market, which is robust because of the THC limits in the legal industry.

What are the “intoxicating cannabinoids” in cannabis products? True, THC can make you feel impaired or “intoxicated,” but it is not a toxin like alcohol. Labelling cannabinoids as toxic is scientifically inaccurate.

THC limits don’t increase “public health” or mitigate “public risks.” Health Canada’s inability to comprehend unintended consequences further validates Mises’ theory.

“If one rejects laissez faire on account of man’s fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action.”

Health Canada on Cannabis Amendments: Packaging and Labelling 

Again, this is an internal amendment process. Not the legislative review. So even if everyone at Health Canada wanted to scrap the plain-packaging requirements, they must wait for their superiors (the politicians) to give the thumbs up.

So, Health Canada asks: “Are there labelling requirements that could be changed without public health or public safety impacts? What required information should remain, and what information could be removed? Why or why not?”

Health Canada on Cannabis Amendments: Record Keeping

Commercial cannabis in Canada is like trying to run a nuclear power plant. Reporting and record keeping are onerous and cumbersome. Health Canada hears you, though. They want to know the following:

“Are there record-keeping or reporting requirements for micro-class licence holders that could be reduced without affecting public health and public safety? If so, which requirements and why?”

Health Canada: Do Your Job

Health Canada Cannabis Amendments 

Health Canada’s consultation on possible cannabis amendments is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s nice to be included in the process. Asking stakeholders for input is better than assuming their concerns and then amending the Act for worse.

But if Health Canada is this inept, why do we have them at all? As mentioned above, private-sector quality, assurance, and security are already a reality. The idea is to expand these fields across the board.

Instead, Health Canada wants us to do their job for them. They’re asking us to write the amendments. Their job will be to go through our submissions and copy and paste the good while ignoring the bad.

“Good” is anything that promotes the “public health” narrative and protects the financial interests of the big guys. The bad is anything that disregards “public health” for the propaganda term it is and supports more market-orientated solutions.

Or, as Health Canada puts it, they will perform a “cost-benefit analysis of the regulatory proposal.”

But there is no “cost-benefit analysis” when there is no cost. Health Canada’s bureaucrats cannot calculate efficiencies like entrepreneurs in the market.

The sooner Canadians realize this, the sooner we can get a healthcare system (and cannabis regulations) that actually serve the people.

What do you think?

The consultation period is open until May 24, 2023. Health Canada requests you submit your input by email to with the following title in the subject line: “Notice of Intent — Consultation on Potential Amendments to the Cannabis Regulations”.