Article by Trina Fraser, Lift News
Health Canada’s Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) announced two significant changes to the physical security requirements for licensed producers under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) in an unexpected statement released yesterday. Producers are no longer required to store cannabis in a vault, nor are they required to maintain 24-hour video surveillance of grow rooms in production facilities. These changes were implemented by way of two separate exemptions made under s.56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
These changes were in response to Health Canada’s ongoing efforts to strike an appropriate balance between public safety and the regulatory burdens imposed upon LPs. Given that there hasn’t been a security breach with any Canadian LP since the MMPR came into force, this makes sense. For recent applicants, the timing is fortuitous, as they are just breaking ground on new facilities. For others, it came a little too late: imagine digesting this news as you are listening to the beeping of a cement truck backing up to your facility to pour your vault walls (true story). Regardless, even if these changes came too late from a construction perspective, they still create opportunities for operational changes going forward, and can also be relied upon in any future expansions or additional sites.
Here’s what the exemptions entail:
No more vault
The first exemption provides that LPs will no longer be required to store cannabis in a vault that meets the requirements of the Directive on Physical Security Requirements for Controlled Substances. Now, LPs may store cannabis in a ‘secure area.’ The secure storage area must have physical barriers, an intrusion detection system and 24/7 visual monitoring and recording capability. A record must be kept of everyone entering or exiting, and access to those areas must be restricted to those whose presence is required by their work responsibilities. The rule that the Responsible Person In Charge (or an alternate RPIC) must be physically present whenever anyone is in this storage area remains. Storage areas cannot be located in rooms where cannabis plants are being cultivated, propagated, harvested or trimmed, but seeds can be stored in such rooms.
No more grow room cameras
The second exemption relieves LPs from the requirement to maintain 24-hour video surveillance inside the rooms where cannabis plants are being cultivated, propagated, harvested or trimmed. And we’re not just talking one camera here… previously, LPs were required to have enough cameras to sufficiently record every part of a room, accounting for the presence of mature plants. The requirement for motion detectors in these rooms is also removed. But they still need a visual recording device directly outside all points of entry and exit. The room must also still be secured by a monitored intrusion detection system. The requirements for physical barriers to the room, access logs, RPIC presence and air filtration also remain in place.
The changes weren’t a surprise because they were part of the proposals set out in Health Canada’s consultation paper on cannabis regulation. But the timing sure was.