Canadian Legalization Task Force Wraps Up Work

Cannabis will be legalized in Canada next year, and the Canadian government took another step toward that goal this week.

Anne McLellan, Chair of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, and Dr. Mark Ware, Vice Chair, released a statement on November 30 that their report on legalization is being translated into both official languages and would be publicly available once presented to ministers.

As part of their work for the report, the Task Force surveyed Canadians and received nearly 30,000 responses to an online questionnaire. In addition, organizations turned in almost 300 submissions. The Task Force also met with various lawmakers and also learned from Colorado and Washington, as well as Uruguay. The Task Force was also guided by the discussion paper, “Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana.”

“It has been an honour for us, along with the other members of the Task Force, to have had the opportunity to engage with Canadians across the country who generously shared their expertise and perspectives on how the government should approach the legalization and regulation of cannabis,” the statement read.

As Cannabis Wire previously reported, Canadian Minister of Health Jane Philpott announced at the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem, UNGASS, in April 2016, that the Canadian government would legalize recreational cannabis in early 2017.

On November 1, the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) released a report called “Legalized Cannabis: Fiscal Considerations.” The report projected what the new legal cannabis market will look like, and provided numbers. PBO estimates that in 2018, a total of 4.6 million people aged 15 and older will consume cannabis at least once; that number is expected to rise to at least 5.2 million by 2021, according to the office. (Cannabis Wire published a lengthy feature about what the legalized market could look like and who the players might be. Read it here.)

While the recreational cannabis market is projected to grow over time, the medical cannabis market hasn’t taken off the way some expected. Health Canada released marketplace data that showed that cannabis stock outweighed the cannabis sold in the previous two quarters.

“The medical market hasn’t grown as fast as predicted—we’ve still got a lot to do educating both medical professionals and the general public about the drug’s benefits,”  Greg Engel, CEO of Tilray, a global medical cannabis company, told Cannabis Wire.

A speech from the throne last December reaffirmed Trudeau’s plans to legalize cannabis.

The decision to legalize cannabis was because the current approach to cannabis was not “working,” according Canada’s health department, for reasons including high rates of youth use, criminal records associated with non-violent drug offenses, profits going toward crime organizations, and Canadian support for legalization.

“Recognizing that Canada is, fundamentally, a safe and peaceful country, the Government will continue to work to keep all Canadians safe, while at the same time protecting our cherished rights and freedoms. To that end, the Government will introduce legislation that will … legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana,” governor general David Johnston said during the speech from the throne.

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