Backlog of Canadian marijuana application transfers cut in half

The number of cannabis companies in Canada that have yet to transition their federal license applications to the new system has been cut in half since the start of the year, but about a quarter of all applications still have not taken the required step.

The number of companies that have not transferred to the Cannabis Tracking and Licensing System (CTLS) fell to 230 at the end of March from 430 earlier this year, according to Health Canada.

Applications not in the system are effectively in regulatory limbo and not being scrutinized by the country’s cannabis regulator.

As of March 31, 762 applications were in Health Canada’s CTLS. Of those, 660 were in the queue for review and 102 were awaiting payment of application screening fees.

By type, 579 applications were for standard licenses, 150 were for micro and 13 for nursery licenses. Another 20 were applications for sales licenses for medical purposes.

About 80 applicants in the CTLS received a “confirmation of readiness” letter by the end of March, which means Health Canada was satisfied they would meet the regulatory requirements based on an in-depth paper review.

Applicants that received that letter now must submit an evidence package to demonstrate that they meet the regulatory requirements in order to be issued a license.

Major changes implemented by Health Canada to the application process in early May do not affect these applicants.

“Health Canada anticipates conducting a high-level review of up to 580 current applications and issuing status update letters to applications that pass this review,” spokeswoman Tammy Jarbeau said.

“These applicants would then need to provide evidence of a built site that meets the regulatory requirements. The department would then review the application in detail, in priority based on their original application date.”

Matt Lamers can be reached at