The federal government launched a long-awaited review on Thursday of how marijuana legalization has affected Canadians’ health, the domestic cannabis industry and the black market.
Liberals lifted a century-old ban on the recreational use and sale of cannabis in October 2018, with the condition that the law be reviewed three years after it takes effect.
That review is almost a year late.
“In many ways, we are the world leader in promoting sensible drug policy, legalizing and regulating cannabis is one example,” the press conference said.
“But it wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t right the first time.”
The law stipulates that the government must examine the impact of legalization on public health, youth consumption, indigenous peoples and communities, and the ability to legally grow cannabis at home.
The government has determined that a broader review is needed, including investigating whether legal cannabis has made progress to replace the illegal black market.
“Our government has legalized cannabis to protect the health and safety of Canadians, especially minors, and to replace the illegal market,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at a press conference. said.
This review also examines the economic, social and environmental impacts of legalization that have enabled the cannabis-related industry to grow rapidly.
A panel of experts led by Morris Rosenberg conducts the review. Trained as a lawyer, from 1998 he served as Deputy Minister of Justice, Health and Foreign Affairs until 2013.
Rosenberg was also the former president and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, a position he resigned in 2018.
“The scope is very broad and we welcome all feedback,” said Duclos. “Mr. Rosenberg will do a difficult job.”
The remaining four members of the panel have been selected but have yet to be announced.
The panel will draw input from the general public, governments, indigenous peoples, youth, marginalized and racialized communities, cannabis industry representatives, medical cannabis users, health, drug use, criminal justice and law enforcement professionals. I plan to listen.
Duclos and Addiction Minister Carolyn Bennett told the Panel of Experts that they apply a sex and gender lens to their research and how legalization affects women, Indigenous peoples and racialized people. I asked them to pay particular attention to the
According to Bennett, the data so far shows that cannabis consumption among young people has remained stable since legalization. She praised the government’s awareness campaign and said children are more informed about the potential harms of cannabis use than before.
Cannabis products have been legalized in stages, starting in 2018 with fresh and dried products, plants, seeds and oils. The introduction of more classes of products, including edibles, means governments now have to do more, Bennett said.
Across Canada, hospitalizations for cannabis poisoning in children under the age of 10 have increased more than sixfold since legalization, according to a recent study by Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital and Ottawa Hospital.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August found that the increase in hospitalizations was twice as high in states where foods such as chocolate and gummies were legally sold.
Duclos and Bennett must submit their reports to the House and Senate within 18 months after the review begins.
Duclos said he wanted to start the review in the spring of 2022, but it took extra time to broaden the scope and find the right independent experts to take on the work.
—Laura Osman, Canadian Press
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How is cannabis legalization going? Federal Reserve launches overdue review to find out
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