The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and Narcotics Safety and Awareness Act (NSAA) e-Learning Module is one in a series of learning modules that the College is introducing. It is an overview of key principles in the CDSA and its related regulations, as well as the NSAA and its regulations. We recommend that you view this module and refer to the CDSA and NSAA legislation as required, as well as the practice policies and guidelines applicable to these pieces of legislation.
The estimated running time is approximately two to three hours but will depend on your individual pace.
Please note that the CDSA and NSAA Learning Module is only a tool to support learning the CDSA and NSAA and its regulations and is not a comprehensive study resource. It is important to refer to the official legislation for more detailed and current information.
March 26, 2020:
Important update regarding the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic
Health Canada has issued pharmacists a temporary Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) Subsection 56(1) Class Exemption for Patients, Practitioners and Pharmacists Prescribing and Providing Controlled Substances in Canada during the Coronavirus Pandemic from the provisions of:
- Subsection 31(1), and section 37 of the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR)
- Sections G.03.002 and G.03.006 of Part G of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR)
- Paragraphs 52 (c) and (d), subsection 54(1) of the Benzodiazepines and Other Targeted Substances Regulations.
As of May 19, 2018, practitioners no longer require a Section 56 exemption from Health Canada prior to prescribing methadone as per changes to the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR).
Note: Section 7 Methadone in this CDSA Module refers to Section 56 exemption which is no longer required.
As of April 19, 2017, Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are now authorized to prescribe controlled substances in Ontario if they successfully complete the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) approved controlled substances education. This is reflected on CNO’s public register-Find a Nurse. The Nursing Act has been amended since the module was recorded. For more information, refer to the CNO website.
As of October 1, 2016, the regulations under Safeguarding our Communities Act (Patch for Patch Return Policy) took effect in the province of Ontario. This introduced a mandatory patch-for-patch program that establishes specific obligations on prescribers, dispensers and patients in the prescribing, dispensing and use of fentanyl patches. Refer to the legislation and to the following tool for more information: Patch-For-Patch Fentanyl Return Program Fact Sheet.
Diacetylmorphine (heroin) has been added to the list of narcotics that are classified as “Narcotic Drugs”.
Under chapter 4 Narcotics, the slide titled “Narcotic Drugs” should now include diacetylmorphine (heroin) as one of the 5 narcotics listed under the following bullet:
- All products containing methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, pentazocine or diacetylmorphine (heroin), even if in combination with 2 or more non-narcotic medicinal ingredients.
As of August 24, 2016, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) replaced the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) under the CDSA. The role of health care practitioners is unchanged by the introduction of the ACMPR.
Health Canada no longer requires pre-authorization requests for the local destruction of unserviceable narcotics and controlled drugs. This means that pharmacists may proceed with destruction without notifying and receiving acknowledgment from Health Canada in advance.
Practice Policies and Guidelines
Pharmacy practice policies and guidelines were developed to support the CDSA and NSAA and its regulations. Please refer to the policies and guidelines that are applicable to the CDSA and NSAA to support your understanding of the legislation.