Yesterday, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett kicked off the long awaited legislative review of the Cannabis Act.
As part of the legislative review, an independent expert panel has been formed, chaired by Mr. Morris Rosenberg. The panel will have a total of five members. The ministers mentioned that the other four members of the expert panel would be announced in the coming weeks.
The panel will provide independent, expert advice to both Ministers on progress made towards achieving the Act’s objectives, and will help identify priority areas for improving the functioning of the legislation.
It is stated in the Act that the review should focus particularly on the health and cannabis consumption habits of young persons, the impact of cannabis on Indigenous persons and communities, and the impact of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a housing context.
The panel will broaden that focus to include:
- Economic, social and environmental impacts of the Act;
- Progress towards providing adults with access to strictly regulated, lower risk, legal cannabis products;
- Progress made in deterring criminal activity and displacing the illicit cannabis market;
- Impact of legalization and regulation on access to cannabis for medical purposes; and
- Impacts on Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, and women who might be at greater risk of harm or face greater barriers to participation in the legal industry based on identity or socio-economic factors.
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.
Additionally, the panel was mandated to apply a sex and gender-based analysis plus lens to their review. This means they will examine the degree to which different sub-groups of the population (for example, women and people of colour) may experience unique or disproportionate effects of Canada’s cannabis control framework based on identity or socio-economic factors.
The panel will also examine the medical access framework in the context of the legalization of cannabis, and more specifically, whether all elements of the medical framework are required to maintain reasonable access to cannabis for patients.
As an initial step in the legislative review, an online engagement process has been launched.
All Canadians can share their views via the online questionnaire, or through written feedback, until November 21, 2022.
First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples are invited to read and provide feedback by November 21, 2022, on the Summary from Engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
The Summary outlines what has been heard by Health Canada to date through engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples on the Cannabis Act. Feedback on this paper will help confirm if Health Canada has properly understood their perspectives, priorities and concerns related to cannabis.
Following these consultations, the Ministers will be required to table a report on this review in both Houses of Parliament 18 months after the review begins (by March 2025).
The industry has largely welcomed this consultation and will be focusing their feedback and consultations specifically on the economic impacts enabling fundamental breakeven financial survivability, which has been a challenge for the entire sector, including for small and craft cannabis operators.
Things such as Excise tax reform, THC potency limits, and the ability to more effectively compete with the legacy market, can expect to be a central theme of submissions by the industry.