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Canadian Ministers Release Final Report On Cannabis Act

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Canada became the second country on earth to pass a national adult-use cannabis legalization measure back in 2018. The only other country to have done so prior to Canada was Uruguay, which passed its own national adult-use cannabis legalization measure in 2013.

Since 2018, three other nations have passed a national adult-use cannabis legalization measure – Malta in 2021, Luxembourg in 2023, and Germany this year. The first provisions of Germany’s legalization measure are set to go into effect on April 1, 2024.

Canada, for the time being, represents the biggest cannabis public policy experiment to date, and there is a lot that other governments can learn from Canada’s experience. As part of Canada’s legalization effort, various ministers were tasked with providing a final report in conjunction with an independent Expert Panel.

“This final report is the result of the extensive work conducted by the independent Expert Panel, chaired by Morris Rosenberg, that led the review over the last 18 months. The report provides an independent assessment on progress made towards achieving the Act’s objectives to protect the health and safety of Canadians and displace the illegal market.” Health Canada stated in a news release.

“Since the launch of the review in September 2022, the Expert Panel engaged extensively with a wide range of cannabis stakeholders to better understand the impacts of the cannabis legislative framework and the challenges and opportunities that exist within the sector. The panel held nearly 140 engagement sessions and heard from over 600 participants. They met with the public, other levels of government, people who access cannabis for medical purposes, youth, the cannabis industry, law enforcement, marginalized and racialized communities, and public health experts. They also undertook distinctions-based engagement activities with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to further understand the impacts of cannabis and the Cannabis Act on Indigenous persons and communities.” Health Canada also stated.

The report’s compilers found that Canada has made significant progress on several of the government’s ‘key objectives’ of its legalization effort, including:

  • the establishment of a licensing framework supporting a legal industry that is providing adult consumers with a quality-controlled supply of a variety of cannabis products
  • steady progress in shifting adult consumers to the legal cannabis market
  • for the most part, adherence to rules on promotion, packaging and labelling, including prohibitions about making claims about health or lifestyle benefits
  • a significant reduction (95% between 2017 and 2022) in the number of charges for the possession of cannabis and minimizing the negative impact on some individuals from interactions with the criminal justice system

The final report identifies 54 recommendations and 11 observations that its authors have determined will strengthen and improve Canada’s cannabis policies and regulations. Additionally, Statistics Canada recently found that 72% of consumers in Canada report making their cannabis purchases from the regulated market.