Canada: Exporting Cannabis From Canada

Last Updated: March 24 2017
Article by Jonathan Sherman

A Licensed Producer (LP) can obtain a permit from the federal Minister of Health to export cannabis internationally from Canada to a single and specified importer. While export permits can currently only be used to export cannabis for medical purposes, some LPs are committing considerable resources on their international exportation efforts because of the current and potential future international opportunities within the global cannabis market. Additional regulatory information regarding cannabis exportation can be found in Subdivision G of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

In Canada, there are a growing number of medical cannabis patients, with roughly 130,000 patients registered at the end of 2016. According to a report by Canaccord Genuity, over 50,000 kilograms of medical cannabis are projected to be sold by LPs in Canada in 2017, which would result in revenue of almost $400 million, assuming an average sale price of $7.50 per gram1. According to that same Canaccord report, revenue for Canadian LPs could reach $1.5 billion by 20242. Despite a large emerging market in Canada, the international market for medical cannabis may be substantially larger. Privateer CEO, Brendan Kennedy, estimates that the international medical cannabis market could reach $100 billion in annual retail value in the next five to ten years.3

Accordingly, some LPs, including the Cronos Group and Tilray, foresee the international medical and pharmaceutical cannabis market having significant long-term business potential by capturing a considerable proportion of total global cannabis revenue.4 As a result, LPs entering into commercial export agreements are placing an emphasis on developing strong international business relationships, being the first to market in certain international jurisdictions, and establishing distribution networks in order to capitalize on the opportunities in this relatively new industry.

While a legal recreational cannabis market is anticipated in Canada in approximately 18-24 months, even in a full-use adult recreational market, Canada's population of just over 35 million is dwarfed by the growing international population that can, or will soon be able to, legally consume medical and/or recreational cannabis. In the event that Canada permits recreational cannabis exportation at some point in the future, there may be some significant advantages for LPs that have already made ongoing investments to build their exportation experience and international relationships in the medical cannabis market.

LPs are increasingly entering into commercial agreements for international distribution of cannabis for medical purposes and clinical research studies. A major factor allowing for these opportunities is that LPs are operating under a world-leading regulatory scheme for medical cannabis under the ACMPR, which is often an influential or determinative factor for other governments looking to import medical cannabis and/or create their own regulatory system for medical cannabis usage.5 Canada is a leading jurisdiction in the production of large-scale pharmaceutical-grade quality cannabis, compared to food-grade quality cannabis that is often produced in other jurisdictions.6 In addition, robust capital markets activity has allowed Canadian LPs to significantly increase their production capacity and internal efficiencies, as Canadian LPs mature and grow into sophisticated corporate entities.

Export Considerations

LPs should consider the following when exploring international exportation opportunities:

Obligations under International Treaties

International trade in cannabis is controlled under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, as amended by the Protocol Amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1972). In addition, Canada is a signatory to the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971, and the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.

Conditions Precedent under the ACMPR

Health Canada administers the export of medical cannabis, with the support of the Canada Border Services Agency (the CBSA). In order to export medical cannabis, LPs are required to provide a copy of the import permit issued by a competent authority in the jurisdiction of final destination and to make a declaration that a shipment does not contravene the laws of the jurisdiction of the final destination or any country of transit or transhipment.

Moreover, the jurisdiction of import may impose additional obligations on a Canadian exporter that are separate and distinct from the specific requirements in the medical cannabis sector. Canadian LPs must recognize these international trade issues as these complexities may result in additional costs or undue delays with respect to the delivery of their products. Canadian LPs should address each of these considerations in the context of any commercial agreements with respect to the export of medical cannabis.

Reporting Obligations

A Canadian LP that exports medical cannabis is required to comply with the same reporting requirements applicable to other Canadian exporters, including but not limited to, the CBSA under the Reporting of Exported Good Regulations and the Minister of Health under the ACMPR. In addition, Canadian LPs must maintain all records in connection with the exportation for six years following the date of export.

Timing Considerations

An export permit granted under the ACMPR will expire on the earliest of: (i) the 120th day after the effective date; (ii) December 31 of the year of the effective date; (iii) the expiry date of the import permit; (iv) the date on which the export permit is suspended or revoked; and (v) the expiry date of the LP license to which the export permit pertains.

Stock Exchange or Other Regulatory Approvals

Canadian LPs may need to obtain approval and/or give undertakings to the relevant listing exchange in order to obtain an export permit. As an emerging industry, Canadian LPs that are publicly traded are subject to significant regulation which may impact the LPs international exportation opportunities.

Other Considerations

According to Health Canada, cannabis is a narcotic and has the potential for serious public health, safety and security risks. Except for the limited products with a Drug Identification Number, cannabis's efficacy and safety has not been established and it has not received approval under the Food and Drugs Act. Its abuse has broad societal and economic consequences and can result in harm to health and to society when diverted or misused.7

Import and export can undermine the regime's public health and safety objectives by exacerbating risks related to higher inventory levels, large shipments over long distances and the inability to apply Canada's strict security requirements beyond Canada's borders.8


Compliance with the relevant ACMPR provisions and the Narcotic Control Regulations is crucial for Canadian LPs. Non-compliance with ACMPR regulations could lead to significant consequences for an LP, including, but not limited to, removal of its ACMPR license.

While the export market for medical cannabis in Canada continues to evolve, the following are recent examples of Canadian LPs that have obtained export permits, related agreements, or other ventures connected to the international distribution of cannabis:

Licensed Producer International Presence
Tilray New Zealand (Middlemore Hospital)
Chile (Alef Biotechnology SpA)
Brazil (Alef Biotechnology SpA)
Croatia (Croatian Institute of Immunology)
Canopy Growth Corp. Germany (MedCann GmbH Pharma and Nutraceuticals)
Brazil (Bedrocan Brazil and Entourage Phytolab S.A.)
Australia (AusCann Group Holdings Ltd.)
Peace Naturals (Cronos Group) Germany (Pedanios GmbH)
Mettrum Health Corporation Australia (Department of Agriculture)
Aphria Inc. Australia (Medlab Clinical Limited)

This article was written with the helpful contribution of Michael Garbuz (Articling Student).


1. Maruoka, Neil, and Matt Bottomley. Canadian Cannabis - Initiation of Coverage. Toronto: Canaccord Genuity, 13 March 2017.

2. Ibid.


4. Ibid.


6 . Ibid.


8. Ibid.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions