Liberal government launches cannabis law review – one year late | TNZT News


The federal government has launched a review of the Cannabis Act to determine whether the legislation governing the legalization of marijuana meets the needs and expectations of Canadians.

“Through this helpful, inclusive and evidence-based assessment, we will strengthen the law to meet the needs of all Canadians while continuing to drive out the illegal market. I look forward to the panel’s findings,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said.

Liberals lifted a century-long ban on the use and sale of recreational cannabis in October 2018, committing to review the law three years after it came into effect. That review is almost a year late.

Under the Cannabis Act, the review should focus on the law’s impact on indigenous peoples, on growing cannabis in residential complexes, and on young people’s health and consumption patterns.

“Young people are at increased risk for harm from cannabis, such as mental health problems, including dependence and disorders related to anxiety and depression,” said Carolyn Bennett, Minister for Mental Health and Addiction.

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“While much progress has been made in implementing the Cannabis Act and its twin objectives of protecting public health and maintaining public safety, we need to assess the work done and learn how and where we can adapt to achieve goals.”

The review mandate has been expanded to include an examination of the social and environmental impacts of the Cannabis Act, the impact of legalization and regulation of medicinal cannabis, and the impact on racialized communities and women.

The federal government said the Cannabis Act was introduced to crowd out the illegal market and protect the health of Canadians.

Expert panel to be named soon

Progress towards both goals will also be examined by the review, which will be conducted by an independent panel of experts.

Morris Rosenberg, the former Undersecretary of Justice, will chair the expert panel. The other panel members have not yet been named.

The panel will hear from the public, government, indigenous groups, youth, representatives of the cannabis industry and medicinal cannabis users. The panel will also hear from experts in public health, substance abuse, law enforcement and healthcare.

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“I look forward to working with the panel and providing evidence-based advice to ministers to strengthen this very important piece of legislation and advance public policy in Canada,” Rosenberg said on Thursday.

Children and edibles

Bennett and Duclos were asked about reports that an increasing number of children have been hospitalized for exposure to cannabis products, and whether the assessment would consider effects on young children.

“We’ve done well in terms of the public education campaign, but I think we need to do more since the advent of edibles,” Bennett said. “Families need to make sure it’s in a safe place that kids can’t reach.”

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, co-chair of the all-party cannabis caucus, said there are always risks to public health when it comes to alcohol, cannabis and other substances, but these can be mitigated with harm reduction.

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“The public health approach should be about harm reduction and a broader view … to say, ‘How can we best regulate activities to reduce harm?’ And edibles are a good example of that,” he says.

Duclos said that since legalization, 70 percent of the Canadian cannabis market has moved from the illicit economy to legal and regulated sources.

Erskine-Smith said moving the illicit cannabis market should be a central goal of any cannabis legalization legislation and a core part of the federal government’s overall agenda.

“We’re going to displace the illegal market. It’s only a matter of time and you’re going to see those numbers shift over the next three years, five years and ten years,” he said. “The legal market will be where Canadians continue to run.”

He said that for this to happen, the federal government must continue to provide Canadians with safe, affordable and reliable supplies.


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