GS1 Canada

Cannabis Supply Chain – Best Practices

Launching Cannabis Products in Canada

To sell cannabis and cannabis-related products (such as accessories) in Canada, licensed producers will need to use GS1 global standards to identify products and enable supply chain traceability.

GS1 Canada has been consulting with provincial cannabis authorities and representatives from the cannabis business community to develop key guidelines on which global standards licensed producers will need to adopt.

Click here for a guide on how to Launch Cannabis Products in Canada.


Value of GS1 Global Standards

In a global digital world, GS1 global standards help single out what really matters. Commonly encoded as barcodes and scanned at the checkout, global standards are used to uniquely identify companies, products, locations and their associated data. This standard data is used to fuel critical business processes throughout the value chain.

Global standards users benefit from:


Interoperability

Global standards level the playing field and facilitate business across borders for organizations of all sizes. Standards-based solutions ensure brand consistency and interoperability across systems.

Traceability

Global standards enable products to be tracked and traced as they move through the supply chain. This enables supply chain issues to be identified and products to be quickly located or recalled if necessary.

Operational Efficiency

Remove unreliable, time-consuming, manual business processes from the supply chain, minimizing the number of repetitive processes and significantly reducing the opportunity for human error.

Authenticity

By enabling the traceability of products throughout the supply chain, global standards reduce the risk of product counterfeiting.

Trusted Canadian Industry Expertise

Our ECCnet New Item Setup solution for cannabis and cannabis-related products includes mandatory attributes specifically requested by Canadian industry, removing any confusion or doubt about the required data.

Working With GS1 Global Standards

To sell cannabis or cannabis-related products in Canada, licensed producers will need three things

  1. To use a GS1-compliant global identifier and barcode.
  2. To provide product data (we recommend using GS1 Canada’s ECCnet New Item Setup).
  3. (Recommended) To have globally standardized product images of their products.

To meet these requirements, you will need to become a GS1 Canada subscriber. Click the button below to get started.

If you need help throughout the subscription process, please consult this helpful guide.

Getting Started


GS1 Identifiers and Barcodes

Licensed producers will need to use Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs, also known as UPCs or EANs) to identify individual products across the supply chain.

This information must be encoded in a machine-readable GS1 compliant barcode.

For detailed information, please consult the following guides:

To sell cannabis products, there are three mandatory Application Identifiers or AIs that must be encoded into a barcode:

  • GTIN (AI code 01). Your product identifier. Expressed as a 14-digit number (with filler zeroes inserted in the beginning if the original GTIN was less than 14 digits long).
  • Expiration date (AI code 17). Expressed as a six-digit number in YYMMDD format. For products that do not have expiry dates, use the default of 500723 in this space.
  • Batch/Lot number (AI code 10). Can be any alphanumeric code up to 20 characters.

To encode the GTIN as well as the additional information, the following types of specific barcodes should be used.

Product Packaging: Use an Expanded DataBar or Stacked Expanded DataBar.

These types of barcode have the advantage of being able to encode multiple additional AIs within a single barcode. In addition, Expanded DataBars and Stacked Expandeded DataBars are omnidirectional, making them easier to scan in-store.

Shipping Cases: Use a GS1-128 barcode.

Like a DataBar, a GS1-128 barcode can encode multiple AIs within a single barcode.


In the sample pictures above, the barcodes are encoding three AIs: the GTIN, which appears after the (01), the Expiration Date, which appears after the (17) and the Lot/Batch number, which appears after the (10).


Cannabis-related products, such as accessories, do not need additional AIs to be supplied and can be encoded with a standard EAN/UPC barcode.


GS1 Canada subscribers can learn more about how to barcode products through The Learning Zone, GS1’s online education and training resource.


Introduction to Barcodes


How to Create Your Barcode