© Can Stock Photo / Tinnakorn© Can Stock Photo / Tinnakorn

Canada launches review of the Cannabis Act

A little later than expected, the federal government has launched a review of the Cannabis Act.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced Thursday an independent expert panel will lead a credible and inclusive review.

"The work of the Expert Panel will address the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians while protecting their health and safety. 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," said Duclos.

He said they wanted to begin the review in the spring, as required under legislation, but decided to spend a few more months ensuring they got three things right. He pointed to independence, scope and engagement.

"This is an independent committee so it has the ability and the capacity and the freedom to do whatever it thinks it should be doing in the context of this important review of the legislation," he said. "

Duclos said they decided to expand the scope of the review beyond what the legislation outlined. Then they ensured a strong mandate and panel to support a more engaged review. The legislative review will assess the progress made towards achieving the Act's objectives, including economic, social and environmental impacts.

It will evaluate impacts on residents, communities, youth, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. The panel will consider progress towards providing adults with access to strictly regulated, lower risk, legal cannabis products while deterring criminal activity and displacing the illicit cannabis market. They'll also look at medical cannabis and trends and impact of home cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes.

Duclos said the panel will be chaired by Morris Rosenberg, who has expertise and experience in the fields of justice, public health, and public safety. The government will announce the other four members of the Expert Panel in the coming weeks.

The Panel will engage with the public, governments, Indigenous peoples, youth, marginalized and racialized communities, cannabis industry representatives and people who access cannabis for medical purposes to gather their perspectives on the implementation of the Act. The Panel will also meet with experts in relevant fields, such as public health, substance use, criminal justice, law enforcement and health care.

As an initial step in the legislative review, an online engagement process has been launched. All Canadians are invited to read Taking Stock of Progress: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation in Canada and to share their views via the online questionnaire or through written feedback until November 21, 2022.

The Cannabis Act came into force on October 17, 2018, putting in place a new, strictly regulated framework for controlling the sale, possession, production and distribution of cannabis.

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