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Women Advocating for Changes to Act

A Canadian women’s advocacy group is pushing for changes to Canada’s Cannabis Act and a more equitable cannabis industry.

Canadian Women in Cannabis (CWIC) is a women-led advocacy collective established in 2018. The entity is focused on the inclusion and advancement of women in the Canadian cannabis industry.

Their purpose is to provide a safe channel for Canadian women in cannabis and to collaborate, share, and amplify female voices. They advocate for fair, equal, and considerate cannabis laws in Canada and their membership includes hundreds of partners and allies across Canada.

CWIC Submission to Expert Panel

In April 2023, CWIC delivered a submission to the Expert Panel conducting the Cannabis Act review. (The Government of Canada announced in September 2022 that is has launched a legislative review of the country’s Cannabis Act.)

Entitled Bias & Barriers, CWIC’s report includes 19 recommendations for government to reform key elements of the Act. The report also explores the impact of the Act on women, women-identifying, and BIPOC people and the barriers to their participation in the industry.

“Four years after legalization, experts across multiple disciplines agree that the Act contains a glaring omission that perpetuates the negative impacts of prohibition within the nascent cannabis industry’s foundations and functionality,” the report says. “Canada fell short of acknowledging the racist and discriminatory history of prohibition and taking strong legislative measures to address the need for reparation. As a result, race-based stigma surrounding cannabis is responsible for the barriers to entry into the industry disproportionately affecting equity deserving groups, BIPOC communities, and women.”

Lack of Gender Equity in Cannabis Industry

The report outlines the stigma women and BIPOC communities face in the cannabis industry, the barriers to entry they experience, and the gender inequity that results.

Women experience a lack of access to capital, and leadership positions are predominantly filled by men who are shaping the industry and its culture. “Sadly, women today report a shocking level of sexual harassment, bullying, and mindful exclusion in the workplace,” the report says.

19 Recommendations to Change the Cannabis Act

The report’s 19 recommendations fall under four themes:
1.      Expand Section 7 of the Cannabis Act to include the following purpose: promote social responsibility and equity in relation to cannabis, with the aim of repairing the harms of the previous discriminatory prohibitionist policy.
2.      Implement Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) measures.
3.      Support economic advancement for women by fostering a viable industry.
4.      Remove ongoing barriers to cannabis-based patient care.

Within those themes, recommendations include:
·        Include women, patient, and BIPOC advocacy groups in the Industry Strategy Table under Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada.
·        Require cannabis companies to disclose JEDI metrics.
·        Expand 2-stage license review process currently available to Indigenous affiliated applicants to other equity deserving applicants (women and BIPOC-led applicants).
·        Adjust excise duty for dried cannabis to 10% of wholesale price.
·        Revise restrictions on branding and education to allow consumers to make purchasing decisions based on diversity of ownership.
·        Remove excise duty on medical cannabis.
·        Include high-potency THC products in regulated markets.
·        Allow for pharmacy and dedicated medical retail.

For more information and the full list of recommendations, please refer to the Bias & Barriers report.

Tags: BIPOC (2), Canadian Cannabis (110), Cannabis Act review (6), Cannabis Industry (184), cannabis legislation (6), DEI (3), diversity equity and inclusion (3), social responsibility (7)