Physical Security Requirements For Canadian Medical Marijuana Producers
The landscape has shifted dramatically in recent years regarding the legal cultivation and distribution of marijuana in Canada, opening up new business opportunities on an epic scale. The current group of licensed producers are authorized to distribute cannabis to an estimated 130,000 medical users and have already attracted over $700 million in financing in anticipation of the imminent legalization for recreational use.
It’s an emerging business model with staggering revenue potential. A report by CIBC World Markets estimates that once fully legalized, marijuana sales are expected to reach $10 billion annually, representing 0.25 of GDP.
While the floodgates are opening quickly, it has been a slow ride to this point. Current regulations are an evolutionary patchwork of several pieces of legislation that have come and gone.
The introduction of the Marihuana (sic) Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) by the Government of Canada in 2001 was the first legislation intended to outline the framework for granting permission for cannabis consumption for medical reasons.
The framework established by MMAR effectively created the medical marijuana industry in Canada, as it outlined the rules and regulations under which producers must operate.
once fully legalized
MMAR was subsequently replaced in 2013 by the Marihuana (sic) for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), which in turn was ruled to be unconstitutional by the Federal Court of Canada and eventually struck down. In its place, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) came into force on August 24, 2016.
Today, all licensed producers are bound by the regulations laid out in ACMPR. Any company wishing to legally cultivate and sell marijuana for health reasons in Canada must adhere to a strict set of rules. If not properly followed, it can result in, not only a failure to gain approval to operate, but also significant financial losses due to investments incurred in a failed application.
Strict Security Regulations
Of particular importance is the set of rules regarding physical security requirements for producers. Subdivision C of the ACMPR legislation lays out specific security measures that must be followed to the letter by any would-be or current producer.
Unfortunately, navigating through Health Canada’s regulations can be a confusing affair. Vital documents are frequently archived, and you have to sift through a variety of regulations stretching back to MMAR and MMPR to find the relevant guidelines currently in force.
However, it’s vital that you fully understand these regulations. Not only do would-be producers have to satisfy the security requirements as part of their application, they must also be prepared for a series of inspections – both introductory and ongoing – before getting the go ahead to begin production.
Gaining a license is not an easy affair, either. According to Health Canada, of 1665 applications made under ACMPR, 265 have been refused while 858 were returned as incomplete.
So exactly what physical security rules do medical marijuana producers need to be aware of?
We have compiled a checklist that can help you navigate through the sometimes contradictory set of regulations you need to satisfy in order to become a licensed medical marijuana producer.
In addition, consulting with a medical marijuana security expert can help to ensure that your site security is fully compliant with all regulations so that your application is likely to be approved.
Security Requirements For Producers
ACMPR keeps many of the original security requirements outlined in MMPR intact, with a few modifications.
Subdivision C of ACMPR, however, spells out the following goals:
Compliance with security measures
A licensed producer must ensure that the security measures set out in this Subdivision are carried out.
The licensed producer’s site must be designed in a manner that prevents unauthorized access.
Marijuana Facility Security Requirements
In order for your application to be successful, you will need to ensure that you satisfy the security requirements. Veridin Systems Canada has compiled a checklist of critical factors you must have in place before you will be granted a license to produce marijuana.
2. Security Site Plan
A security site plan will outline the actual security arrangements that will be implemented on the site. It encompasses the area from the fenceline to the layout of the buildings themselves and covers both physical access and monitoring requirements.
At a minimum, a security fence with barbed wire measuring 10 feet in height should form the outer barrier. Within this perimeter, there is a set of security requirements mandated by the regulations.
Physical security experts such as Veridin can help you design and implement a security site plan as well as provide security equipment that will put you in compliance with regulations.
- Visual monitoring
- Visual recording devices – required in all areas where marijuana is present
- Perimeter and internal intrusion detection systems
- Dual-factor authentication access control
- Off Site visual monitoring
- 2-years of video retention as required by Health Canada
Additional measures include ensuring that buildings have a minimum number of entrances and ensuring that all intrusion sensors are adequately maintained.
What You Need To Do on Day of Initial Inspection
Health Canada will conduct an initial inspection of your facilities to ensure they are fully compliant with all regulations. In an updated policy announcement dated May 26, 2017, the agency stated:
“Health Canada will schedule this first inspection after it has determined an application meets the regulatory requirements and it has issued the licence to cultivate and once the producer is ready to initiate production in its facility.”
The purpose of this inspection is twofold: to verify the physical security arrangements for the site are in full compliance with regulations, and to verify that the producer is meeting established practices under ACMPR.
On the day of your initial inspection, you must be able to prove that all of your duties and responsibilities are demonstrably in order and can show the inspectors that you are ready to produce in accordance with every regulation. Not only will Health Canada conduct an initial inspection, they will also undertake additional targeted inspections in the future.
Health Canada outlines what you should expect during an initial inspection, including
- Verification of the site’s details and identification of personnel
- A detailed verification of security arrangements
- Verification of record keeping procedures
- Ensuring good production practices are being followed
- Confirmation that all activities being undertaken by the producer are in alignment with what was stated on the application
To ensure that your initial inspection goes smoothly, a physical security expert like Veridin should be on hand during the process to operate your security systems on your behalf, allowing them to immediately deal with any deficiencies indicated by an inspector.
Becoming a licensed marijuana producer in Canada involves a labyrinth of regulations which must be strictly met. Before you begin the application process, it’s extremely important that you completely understand the requirements; otherwise, you could find yourself facing significant losses in terms of time and money if your application is rejected.
The security requirements alone are a major factor in determining whether your license will be granted. Your success ultimately boils down to understanding your threat risk, designing and implementing security systems and plans to cover all aspects of the operation, and proving that your procedures are in compliance with Health Canada regulations.
For that reason, it is equally important that you work with a physical security company that can not only provide expert advice on marijuana security requirements, but can provide you with the technology and solutions to ensure that your operation is fully compliant, safe, and secure.
Veridin Systems Canada has over 25 years experience providing expert and customized security solutions to clients across a wide variety of industries, including medical marijuana producers and other pharmaceutical companies. Before you undertake the complex Health Canada marijuana producer license application process, contact us to learn how we can help position you for success.