Are you prepared for Health Canada's security clearance process?
Security Clearance: A Brief Overview
Key individuals who are affiliated with those holding certain forms of licenses are required to obtain a security clearance from Health Canada under the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Regulations. These clearances aim to reduce public health and safety risks, which include the danger of cannabis being diverted to the illegal black market.
Applicants undergo checks as part of the security clearance process to ensure that he or she will not be a threat to the health or safety of the public, and will not use cannabis for any illicit activities.
These RCMP-regulated checks do not only involve criminal records verification, but can also include checking of related files from enforcement agencies and other bodies.
Once Health Canada has reviewed all relevant information, the agency will determine if an applicant can be classified as a risk to public health and safety. They may also consider additional factors (see section 53(2) of the Cannabis Regulations) when determining risk level of an applicant. These factors include everything from a history of participation in criminal organizations, through to involvement in financial or violent crime.
Security clearances are valid for no more than five years. Those who have already obtained clearance should be aware of when they need to renew, allowing enough time for processing.
The time it takes to complete the security screening process may vary as every case is different. It may take several months for some individuals, while it may take longer for others. This will depend on the complexity of the individual’s background, and any consultations needed with other enforcement agencies. There have been cases where security screening took more than a year to complete.
Having many addresses, employers, or living overseas over the previous five years may extend the length of the application process. The information disclosed by these checks, as well as the need to acquire additional information from an applicant either in written form or otherwise may also have an effect on the time it will take to complete the security screening process.
As a Licensed Producer, it is crucial to learn as much as you can about the individuals applying for security clearances as part of your application. An application may be denied or refused if a person occupying the indicated position does not have a valid and legitimate security clearance.
Security clearance applicants are required to create their own Cannabis Tracking and Licensing System (CTLS) account. RCMP and Health Canada are not be able to provide applicants with additional details about any ongoing security clearance applications to maintain the process integrity. Any information regarding the status of their application can be found on their CTLS account.
Security clearance applicants may email Health Canada directly for any questions about the application process at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An invoice for the security screening fee(s) will be sent out only once your license application is accepted and successfully passes Health Canada’s initial screening stage. You’ll have to pay a fee for each of your security clearance applications.
Who requires a security clearance?
All key individuals associated with cultivation, processing, and sale licenses automatically require security clearances. Below is a list of individuals that need to submit a security clearance application, according to guidelines laid out under the Cannabis Regulations.
- Directors: For cultivation, processing and sale licenses if the applicant is a corporation or a cooperative.
- Officers: For cultivation, processing and sale licenses if the applicant is a corporation or a cooperative.
- Partners: For cultivation, processing and sale licenses if the applicant is a partnership.
- License Holder (where the holder is an individual): For cultivation, processing, and sale licenses.
- Responsible Person and any alternate: For cultivation, processing, and sale licenses.
- Head of Security and any alternate: For cultivation, processing, and sale licenses.
- Master Grower and any alternate: For cultivation license only.
- Quality Assurance Person (QAP) and any qualified alternate(s): For processing license only.
- Any individual that exercises, or is in a position to exercise direct control over the applicant, or who is a director, officer or partner of certain partnerships, corporations or cooperative associated with the applicant: For cultivation, processing and sale licenses.
For the full list, refer to section 50 of the Cannabis Regulations.
Submission of Application for Security Clearance
You can check the CTLS for information about the submission of your security clearance application. For requirements, check the Application Guide, as well as the Cannabis Act and its regulations. Keep in mind that the consideration of your clearance or license holder application may be delayed if your application is incomplete.
Your overall Licensed Producer application needs to pass initial Health Canada screening before your application for a security clearance will be evaluated.
An invoice for the security screening fee(s) will be sent out only once your license application is accepted and successfully passes Health Canada's initial screening stage. You'll have to pay a fee for each of your security clearance applications.
Once you've settled the fees, your application will proceed to the security clearance stage. This is when the security clearance process starts and where the RCMP will get involved. Both Canadian and non-Canadian residents will be subjected to the same security clearance application process.
The security clearance process requires all applicants to complete the Security Clearance Fingerprint Third Party Consent for the Release of Personal Information form to allow any RCMP-accredited fingerprinting firm to submit fingerprints electronically to the RCMP for criminal record check purposes.
When completed, bring the Third Party Consent form to a RCMP detachment, your local police, or any RCMP-accredited fingerprinting company for the results to be sent to Health Canada.
Here are some things you need to remember:
- You must submit the Third Party Consent form to the RCMP together with your fingerprints taken by the fingerprinting company. Submitting the form means you're authorizing the RCMP to release criminal record check results to Health Canada.
- Make sure to get a copy of the form for your records and as proof of receipt that your fingerprints were obtained.
- Check that the fingerprinting agency includes a Document Control Number or DCN at the bottom of their form. Health Canada may use this number when tracking the status of your criminal records check request.
- You may need to pay a fee to conduct the criminal record check, so contact your fingerprinting service provider for details.
Stay tuned for Part II of our guide to security clearances, including information about the checks conducted, processing, and approvals.
Security Clearance & Application Support
Whether you are looking to determine how security, regulatory, or industry changes will impact your plans, find solutions to streamline your operation, or are just starting to draft a business plan, GrowerIQ is here for you with software and consulting services to help you build and improve your business.
We make the process simple. Start now by submitting the form to the right, or start a chat with us. For more information, and actionable tips from our Master Grower on how to improve your yields and processes, please visit our GrowerIQ's cannabis consulting services page.
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