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Review of Cannabis Act Announced

It was announced by the Government of Canada today, Thursday, September 22, 2022, that it has launched a legislative review of the country’s Cannabis Act. It’s an announcement that’s been long awaited by those operating within the sector, and one that is set to shape the next stage of the fledgling industry’s evolution and growth.

Protection of Canadians and the Industry

The Cannabis Act was established with the objectives of protecting the overall health and safety of the Canadian public while providing a framework that’s flexible, allowing for adaptations in order to meet the ever-evolving needs and preferences of Canadians. In addition, it’s meant to ensure a diverse legal cannabis landscape which is comprised of players, large and small, as a means to supplant the illegal market.

The announcement, made by the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, arrives during a time when there is perhaps the greatest need of a proper assessment and evaluation concerning the effectiveness of the oversight and intervention performed by government in attempts to achieve its aforementioned objectives.

Special Provision

Legislative review of the Act arrives as an anticipated inevitability, given the fact that parliamentarians, industry players, and observers alike all agreed during its development and inception that a need for evaluation might arise. As a result, a special provision was included within the Act requiring a review after three years of cannabis legalization.

In order to execute a thorough review of Canada’s Cannabis Act, an independent expert panel has been assembled and will be chaired by Morris Rosenberg. Work that the panel will conduct as part of its review will be significant in understanding the path forward for the industry. And, according to The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, it should also serve to strengthen the Act’s resolve.

“The work of the Expert Panel will address the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians while protecting their health and safety,” he says. “Through this useful, inclusive, and evidence-driven review, we will strengthen the Act so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to displace the illicit market. I look forward to receiving the panel’s findings.”

Expertise and Experience

Rosenberg was selected to lead the panel because of the wealth of expertise and experience that he possesses in the fields of justice, public health, and public safety, in addition to his informed understanding of the relationships between the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, and Indigenous peoples. The panel will be comprised of five members, with the remaining four announced within the coming weeks. And, they are appointments that, according to The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, will be critical toward ensuring appropriate recommendations based on the panel’s review going forward.

“Ensuring that this review is informed by the input of experts and interested partners in many fields, Indigenous partners, as well as individual Canadians, will be essential to the work being done by Mr. Rosenberg and the rest of the expert panel,” she says. “Congratulations to him, and we look forward to the panel’s review. Their work will be vital for our government to continue moving ahead in a responsible way, while also minimizing the health risks associated with cannabis, especially for young Canadians.”

Objectives and Improvements

The panel will provide its own advice concerning the effectiveness of the Act in helping the government achieve its objectives, and will also serve to identify where improvements or clarification might be required in order to strengthen legislation.

Areas of particular focus that will be under review, and which have been highlighted within the Act as priority focuses, include the health and cannabis consumption habits of young persons, the impact of cannabis on Indigenous persons and communities, and the impact of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a housing context.

In addition, the panel will also explore the following:

  • Economic, social and environmental impacts of the Act
  • Progress towards providing adults with access to strictly regulated, lower risk, legal cannabis products
  • Progress made in deterring criminal activity and displacing the illicit cannabis market
  • Impact of legalization and regulation on access to cannabis for medical purposes
  • Impacts on Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, and women who might be at greater risk of harm or face greater barriers to participation in the legal industry based on identity or socio-economic factors

Consultation and Feedback

The Government of Canada has confirmed that the panel will consult and seek feedback from the Canadian public, governments, Indigenous peoples, youth, marginalized and racialized communities, cannabis industry representatives, and people who access cannabis for medical purposes, as well as professionals working within public health, substance use, criminal justice, law enforcement, and healthcare, in order to gain a holistic perspective and understanding concerning the Act’s functions.

As a means to begin the review process, Canadians are invited to read “Taking Stock of Progress: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation in Canada” and to share their feedback in an online questionnaire or via traditional mail by November 21, 2022. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples are invited to read the “Summary from Engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis People” and to provide their feedback by the same date.

Image courtesy of Michal Klajban, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Tags: Canadian Cannabis (87), Cannabis Act (33), Cannabis Industry (168), Government of Canada (4), Jean-Yves Duclos (1), legislative review (1), Morris Rosenberg (2)