Canada launches review of its cannabis legalization law

Canada launched a long-awaited review of its cannabis law on Thursday, four years after becoming the first major economy to legalize recreational use of the substance.

A group of experts led by Morris Rosenberg, former Deputy Minister of Justice, must assess the impact of legalization on young people and indigenous populations in particular, as well as on the economy and the black market that the new system is supposed to replace.

A regulatory review

The committee must also review the regulatory constraints on the industry and determine whether a separate framework for the use of marijuana for medical purposes – which has been legal since 2001 – should be maintained. This regulatory review, which arrives a year late due to the pandemic, is expected to take 18 months.

For its part, the industry has complained about what it says are unusually high cannabis taxes, a glut of stores — licensed or unlicensed — and advertising and marketing restrictions that make it difficult to compete with the black market.

Strengthen the law so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to dislodge the underground market

During a press conference, the Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, notably indicated that data for the second quarter of 2022 show that 69% of the cannabis market has moved from illicit sources to legal and regulated suppliers.

The review, he added, will help the government “strengthen the (cannabis) law so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to dislodge the underground market.

The consumption rate remains stable

The Minister of Addictions, Carolyn Bennett, for her part, returned to the harmful effects of cannabis on young people and in particular on “mental health issues like addiction and anxiety and depression-related disorders“.

Although awareness campaigns have made them “more aware“of these risks, the Minister pointed out that their rate of consumption has not decreased since legalization, as the government had hoped.

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