Um…a what?

NAS-CENT
Adjective: budding, developing, growing….

With this emerging market, there will no doubt be many changes. Especially as we navigate the implications of Canada becoming the largest legal marketplace for cannabis in the world. It may be a bumpy ride at times, but consider the alternative of not moving forward. Unimaginable!  

For the last few years, our patients at Natural Health Services have been advised on many topics through our doctors, call centres, website and Education Centres. Part of the advice was to keep their medical cannabis in the original container, with it’s affixed label with pertinent medical details. This simple step would prove their right to legally carry their cannabis on their person and/or transport it within Canada.  

This model has changed slightly. Why? Because on October 17, 2018, The Cannabis Act was enacted, making cannabis legal not only for medicinal patients (as it had been since 2001) but for all adults in Canada. With these changes (not surprisingly) came new labelling and packaging laws.  

All Licensed Producers in Canada had 6 months (until April 17, 2019) to comply with the new label and packaging arrangements as set out by Health Canada. Any product ordered through your Licensed Producer, or purchased through the legal recreational market, will have a decidedly different look to it; all in an effort to protect the consumer.  

Colours and fonts, warnings and contents, companies and logos, provincial excise stamps and pertinent dates can all be found on the containers now. But your name and allowed allotment are not.  

Your cannabis will ship with these details on labels, but they will not be affixed.  

SO, how do you protect yourself in the event of being questioned about your legal rights to, for example, carry more than 30 grams on your person? Or to have your medicine of choice with you as needed, per your supreme court determined human right?  

In the event that you are required to prove your medical status to law enforcement officials, you do have the option of having them phone the Licensed Producer (LP). Some LPs are open 24/7 (Tilray and HEXO for instance). With your permission, your registered LP can tell the law enforcement officials that you are an active registered patient, and how much you are permitted to carry. Contact information for the Licensed Producer’s toll free line will be on the label.  

An even simpler way is to carry the documentation that comes with your cannabis. This includes the dated, itemized invoice, and the non-affixed personal label. Have this documentation with your cannabis whenever you are transporting it.    

Contrary to popular belief, an LP ‘card’ isn’t technically the proof that you need to prove legality. Some LPs don’t even create cards.  

If you are flying (within Canada), have the cannabis in its original packaging if possible. Port it in your carry-on bag, and bring the paperwork and label that came with your order.    

If you are transporting your medicine in your vehicle, treat it like alcohol. Keep it sealed and away from all passengers and drivers. If possible, best to transport your cannabis in the trunk with the above noted paperwork.  

If you are transporting cannabis you have grown yourself, a shift in paperwork and packaging applies. Check with the NHS Education Centre when you fill out your application for a Grow at Home license as to what this entails.  

Currently, all adults in Canada are allowed to have 30 grams of legally obtained cannabis (or its equivalent) in their possession, regardless of if they are a medical patient. As mentioned, medical patients can carry 30 days worth of their allotment on their person to a maximum of 150 grams.  

OK. So what will you see on the new labels?  

Front and centre info include the product name, cannabinoid content, and product potency. The product class and form will also be on the label (oil, whole dried flower, capsules etc). There are some class specific elements as well (for example: oils must list allergens).  

You’ll also see health warnings such as a yellow warning label with mandated messages from the Government of Canada, as well as a child safety warning in both French and English. You’ll also see a THC symbol (it looks like a stop sign), as well as the LP’s name and logo.  

The weight and volume will be on the package. By the way, if you’ve ever weighed your cannabis and wondered why there is, at times, a variance – it may be due to the flower continuing to lose moisture. The variance that Health Canada accepts is 10% on 2 grams or less and 5% on amounts over this.  

The lot number and the packaging date will be noted. An expiry date is needed only if an expiry date has been determined.  

Last but certainly not least is the excise stamp. The Government of Canada says:

Consumers purchasing cannabis products are responsible for paying the applicable GST/HST depending on the province or territory where the product is purchased (5%, 13% or 15%).

Consumers can confirm that they are purchasing legally produced cannabis products by verifying that there is a cannabis excise stamp on their product. Each province and territory has a different coloured cannabis excise stamp for products that are being sold in their respective jurisdiction. As patients with registered licensed producers,  whatever you order from your producer is considered legal.

If you are a medical patient ordering from a Health Canada regulated LP, do you need to worry about any of this?   

No.  

All you need to remember is:

  1. Keep the cannabis in a sealed container, preferably its original container.
  2. Keep the itemized dated invoice and the non-affixed label that shipped with your cannabis, with your cannabis.

  As always, feel free to drop into our NHS locations to ask any questions you may have. Or, phone our Patient Care Team at 1-844-262-0942.  

 

— Kait Shane, Community Outreach Educator Natural Health Services.

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