Canada begins review of its cannabis legalization law

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

A panel of experts led by former Deputy Attorney General Morris Rosenberg is to assess the impact of legalization on young people and indigenous people in particular, as well as on the economy and the black market, which the new system is supposed to replace.

Regulatory review

The committee should also consider regulatory restrictions on the industry and determine whether a separate structure should be maintained for the medical use of marijuana, which has been legal since 2001. This regulatory review, which is 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 taxes on cannabis, an oversupply of shops – licensed or unlicensed – and advertising and marketing restrictions that make it difficult to compete with the black market.

Strengthen the law to meet the needs of all Canadians while continuing to drive out the underground market.

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

He added that the review will help the government “strengthen the law (on cannabis) to meet the needs of all Canadians while continuing to stamp out the underground market.”

Consumption remains stable

Drug Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett, for her part, returned to the harmful effects of cannabis on young people and, in particular, “mental health issues such as addiction and disorders associated with anxiety and depression.”

Although awareness campaigns have made them “more aware” of these risks, the minister noted that their use has not declined since legalization, as the government had hoped.

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