OTTAWA – Health Canada has unveiled its regulations for legalized recreational marijuana, which provides the parameters for selling, producing, and police enforcement among other aspects of the incoming regime.

The government says the aim is to foster an industry capable of displacing the illegal market and to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, though a criminal record for a past pot offence may not prevent people from participating in the legal industry.

Speaking with reporters during a background technical briefing on the regulations, federal officials said that recreational marijuana license holders and other people with key positions within a cannabis company, like the master grower, will need to have a security clearance in order to operate.

Factors that will be considered in granting security clearance include a persons’ past criminal record, and any involvement in organized crime, though officials said past convictions for possession or trafficking may not automatically disqualify prospective licence holders from being allowed in to the industry.

These clearances will be issued by the health minister and considered on a case-by-case basis, officials said.

On CTV’s Question Period last week, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the federal government will be looking at the possibility of pardons for people who carry criminal records for marijuana possession after the new law comes into force.

The regulations also spell out the required security setup at locations where legalized marijuana will be produced and sold, including surveillance cameras, a detection system for break-ins, and a physical barrier to prevent unauthorized access.

Those in the business will also be required to report annually on their companies’ financial information, such as the names and addresses of major investors, descriptions of stakeholders’ involvement, and any key financial activity such as investments or loans.

Officials said this is to insure that organized crime stays out of the new regime.

The regulations, set to be published online July 11, set the standards and parameters for producing, selling, distributing, importing and exporting of marijuana. They will come into force with Bill C-45 on Oct. 17.

Micro and standard producers

The new regime allows for six different licence classes for those looking at getting into the cannabis business, including licences for cultivation, processing, analytical testing, sale, and research.

In the cultivation class there are sub classes for micro-cultivation, standard cultivation, and nurseries.

Micro-cultivation applies to producers who occupy less than 200 square metres with their plants, and who do not sell or distribute over 600 kilograms of dried cannabis over a year.

Plain packaging and health warnings

Two major components of the regulations are the labelling and health warnings that will be required on the recreational marijuana packages.

Every child-safe, plain package must include the standard symbol: a red stop sign with a cannabis leaf and “THC,” and include warning labels such as: “Keep out of the reach of children.”

Examples of other approved warning messages are:

  • WARNING: Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Substances found in cannabis are also found in the breast milk of mothers who use cannabis.
  • WARNING: Do not drive or operate machinery after using cannabis. More than 4,000 Canadians were injured and 75 died from driving after using cannabis (in 2012).
  • WARNING: Cannabis can be addictive. Up to 1 in 2 people who use cannabis daily will become addicted.

The regulations say the THC limit for cannabis oil will be 30 milligrams per milliliter of oil.

And while there is no specific limit on the THC in dried cannabis, each joint—or as Health Canada calls it, a unit “intended to be consumed by means of inhalation,”— must not exceed one gram.

Confident supply will meet demand

Officials say they are confident that there will be enough product to go around come the Oct. 17 rollout.

"We, with our provincial and territorial partners as the regulator, I think we’ve taken a number of decisive steps to be confident," said a government official, speaking to the supply that will available opening day.

In addition to the parameters for legalized recreational marijuana, Health Canada issued new sets of regulations on industrial hemp, the qualifications for analyzing cannabis, and the police enforcement regulations.