Four years after becoming the first developed nation to legalise cannabis for recreational use, Canada on Thursday began a long-awaited review of its cannabis legislation. The effects of legalisation on youth, Indigenous peoples, and other groups, as well as the economy and an illegal market that the new regime was intended to replace, will be evaluated by an expert panel headed by Morris Rosenberg, a former deputy minister of justice.
The panel will also look at the industry’s regulatory hurdles and evaluate if a distinct structure for medicinal marijuana, which has been authorised since 2001, is still necessary to preserve patient access. The required evaluation, which was delayed by a year because of the epidemic, is predicted to take 18 months.
The cannabis business has complained about what it considers unusually high taxation on cannabis, an abundance of retailers (both legal and unlicensed), and limitations on advertising and promotion that have made it more difficult to compete with the black market. 69 percent of the cannabis market has shifted from illegal to legal, regulated sources this year, according to preliminary data, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos stated at a press conference.
He said that the study will assist the government in ‘strengthening the (cannabis) act so that it fulfils the requirements of all Canadians while continuing to displace the criminal market’. ‘ We understood that young people are more likely to experience hazards from cannabis, such as mental health issues including dependency and illnesses associated to anxiety and depression’.
She said that despite public awareness programmes making ‘young people more aware of the hazards of using cannabis,’ their level of use has not decreased since legalisation, as intended. Instead, she added that it has stayed largely steady. Government statistics show that 9.5 million Canadians, or 25% of the population, consumed cannabis in 2021, a modest decrease from the previous year. Each month, they spent an average of Can$69 (US$51) on marijuana.