Dear Herb: As a licensed medical grower, is it legal for me to export medical cannabis to other countries that have legalized medical cannabis? Can it be sold to them? — Wanting to Play With the Big Kids
Dear Wanting to Play: Thanks for the question. On the surface, it sounds simple: if you can legally produce medical cannabis here in Canada, why shouldn't you be allowed to send it to another country where medical cannabis is also legal? Of course, reality is much more complicated.
When you say you're a licensed medical grower, I'm going to assume you're referring to a Health Canada authorization to grow cannabis for personal medical purposes, or an authorization to grow on behalf of another registered medical cannabis user. In current Canadian regulatory jargon, this is called being a "registered person" or a "designated person" with an authorization to produce cannabis under that registration.
In contrast, the word "licence" refers to federal cannabis cultivation, processing and sales licences issued to companies (i.e. licensed producers, or LPs.) It's an important distinction. Your authorization to grow medical cannabis for yourself or for others could be considered a "licence" in the colloquial sense of the word, but it's not equivalent to a federal cannabis production licence.
You probably see where I'm going with this: cannabis can only be exported (or imported) by a cannabis licence holder such as a licensed producer, according to this Health Canada bulletin on importing and exporting cannabis.
Individuals with an authorization to produce medical cannabis for themselves or others don't hold that kind of licence.
Even if you did hold a federal cannabis production licence, legally exporting cannabis is quite an involved process. Cannabis can only be imported or exported for medical or scientific purposes, and each individual shipment requires a special permit from Health Canada that's granted on a case-by-case basis. If you want to read the full set of federal rules pertaining to cannabis exports, take a look at the regulations starting at section 213.Advertisement
A number of licensed producers have successfully exported cannabis abroad to countries where medical cannabis is legal, so it can be done — but if the document that allows you to grow medical cannabis here in Canada is actually an authorization to grow limited amounts of medical cannabis for yourself or for someone else, and not a federal cannabis production licence, you aren't eligible to export your crop.
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