Canada was the first G-7 nation to legalize cannabis for adult-use at the national level, and the second nation to do so on earth, only behind Uruguay. Yet, unlike Uruguay, Canada allows adult-use sales to anyone of legal age regardless of their residence status.
In many ways what has gone on in Canada since the launch of legalization in 2018 has served as the greatest cannabis public policy experiment since the dawn of prohibition. Many countries around the globe have kept a close eye on legalization unfolding in Canada to gain any insight and lessons learned.
Back in September Canada’s government launched a legislative review of the Cannabis Act so that it could determine any internal lessons to be learned.
“The objective of the Cannabis Act is twofold. First, it aims to protect the health and safety of Canadians while serving as a flexible legislative framework that adapts and responds to the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians. Second, it provides for the establishment of a diverse and competitive legal industry made up of small and large players to displace the illicit market.” the government stated at the time of the launch of the review.
“Parliamentarians recognized the need for an early assessment of the Government’s new approach to cannabis control, and included a provision requiring a review in the Act. The review will help ensure that the Act adapts to the current situation and continues to meet Canadians needs and expectations.” the government stated back in September.
Part of the legislative review process involves soliciting feedback from the general public. On the four year anniversary of legalization in Canada, Health Canada announced that it was opening an online questionnaire and encouraged all Canadians to provide comments regarding their views on how legalization was going.
“As we look to the future, the Government of Canada will continue to provide clear, consistent and evidence-based information on the health and safety effects of cannabis use to people across the country, so they can better understand the risks and make more informed choices.” Health Canada stated back in October. The public comment period has since closed (on November 21, 2022).
Canada’s Chamber of Commerce recently offered up its recommendations regarding legalization in Canada and what the government can do to help cannabis businesses battle the unregulated market in a meaningful way.
“As part of the legislative review, the NCBC is proposing several recommendations to help businesses in the legal sector remain economically competitive in the long term and continue to displace the illicit market per the tenets of the Cannabis Act.” the Chamber of Commerce stated in its submission to the government.
The Chamber’s recommendations include:
Minimizing harms to protect Canadians
Education and awareness to support informed choices
Progress towards establishing a responsible supply chain
Access to cannabis for medical purposes
Canada’s legal cannabis industry is at a crossroads of sorts, in that a favorable legislative review combined with public policy and regulatory improvements could set up the nation’s industry for robust growth and reduced uncertainty well into the future.
Conversely, a review that yields an outcome that is not favorable could result in kneejerk public policy changes. If so, that would likely ensure that the unregulated industry thrives at the expense of the regulated market in the future. People can read the Chamber’s full submission language at the previously cited link found earlier in this article.