Role of Health Canada in Hemp

Licensing of Industrial Hemp

Hemp is a crop regulated by Health Canada and producers are required to follow key guidelines and regulations as set out in the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR).  A license must be procured from Health Canada and should be applied for in December of the year before planting.

Industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa L., was licensed for cultivation in Canada in March of 1998 under licenses and authorizations issued by Health Canada.

The passage of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) in 1997 provided the legislative authority to allow the commercial production of hemp in Canada. The Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR) received final approval on March 12, 1998 and established the necessary regulatory framework.

Licensing under Health Canada guidelines tightly controls industrial hemp production.  All hemp in Canada must be grown from certified seed, licensed and be low in THC (Delta - 9 - Tetrahydrocannabinol (.390 maximum limit)). To date, all varieties are testing well below the 0.3% maximum limit. Licensing requires the planting of certified seed each year and prohibits replanting of bin run seed by producers.

Hemp regulations are administered by Health Canada’s Office of Controlled Substances (OCS).  Persons carrying out any activity involving hemp must be licensed.  Possession of hemp plant parts or products without the appropriate license is a criminal offence.  Exceptions to this are mature stalks without leaves, branches or flowers and non-viable seeds.

A license is issued for one calendar year (January thru December) for cultivating, importing, exporting, processing, distributing, possessing, plant breeding, analyzing and/or sampling hemp.

License applications, guides, and further details are available from the Office of Controlled Substances.

License applications for producing hemp can be found on the Health Canada website.  Along with an annual license, a criminal check is required each year.

Contact Health Canada for detailed licensing requirements.  Send completed license applications to:

Office of Controlled Substances
Industrial Hemp Section
Licenses and Permits Division
Office of Controlled Substances
Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate
Health Canada


150 Tunney’s Pasture Drive
AL 0300B
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0K9
Email:  Hemp@hc-sc.gc.ca
Phone:  (613) 954-6524
Fax:  (613) 960 1740

See Reference Links for Health Canada web address.