Government unveils Canada's pot plan

Dec 14 2016, 4:25 am

Covering everything from retail sales to possession guidelines and totalling 106 pages, the federal government’s final report on marijuana legalization in Canada was released today.

The report comes after the nine-member legalization task force heard from all levels of government across the country, as well as patients, advocates, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, employers and industry.

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In addition, an online public consultation on the topic generated almost 30,000 submissions.

Broken down into sections, the report detailed a number of recommendations, across a variety of categories.

Minimizing harm

A number of steps to reduce potentially harmful effects or circumstances were outlined in the report. They include:

  • Setting a national minimum age of purchase of 18, acknowledging the right of provinces and territories to harmonize it with their minimum age of purchase of alcohol.
  • Applying comprehensive restrictions to the advertising and promotion of cannabis and related merchandise by any means, including sponsorship, endorsements and branding, similar to the restrictions on promotion of tobacco products.
  • Allow limited promotion in areas accessible by adults, similar to those restrictions under the Tobacco Act.
  • Requiring all cannabis products to include labels identifying levels of THC and CBD
  • Provide regulatory oversight for cannabis concentrates to minimize the risks associated with illicit production.

Proper distribution

The report outlined what it would consider proper distribution methods, as a result of marijuana legalization. Some of the recommendations were:

  • No co-location of alcohol or tobacco and cannabis sales, wherever possible. When co-location cannot be avoided, appropriate safeguards must be put in place.
  • Limits on the density and location of storefronts, including appropriate distance from schools, community centres, public parks, etc.
  • Dedicated storefronts with well-trained, knowledgeable staff.
  • Access via a direct-to-consumer mail-order system.

Household and personal use

The report recommend that personal and household cultivation be allowed, but with a set of guidelines:

  • A limit of four plants per residence.
  • A maximum height limit of 100 cm on the plants.
  • A prohibition on dangerous manufacturing processes.
  • Reasonable security measures to prevent theft and youth access.
  • Oversight and approval bye local authorities.

BC government responds to report

In a statement released on Tuesday in response to the federal report, BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Morris said the provincial government will take time to “thoroughly” review it.

“This is a comprehensive report, and the framework it outlines for legalizing cannabis in Canada will have many ramifications for BC,” Morris said. “It’s clear, and encouraging, that the task force considered B.C.’s concerns as it developed a foundation for a new system of regulatory safeguards.”

The illegal market for cannabis that currently exists has “abetted criminal organizations while also saddling many young Canadians with the stigma and ramifications of a criminal record for possession,” Morris added. “This report suggests that an opportunity is at hand to address these historical downsides while advancing public health and safety.”

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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