Task Force on Cannabis Legalization report to be made public by mid December

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Courtesy of Lift Magazine

November 30, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Honourable Anne McLellan, Chair of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, and Dr. Mark Ware, Vice Chair, released a statement today on the completion of the Task Force’s work.

“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.

We are pleased to announce that the Task Force has completed our work. Our work has been guided by the Discussion Paper, “Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana.” To fulfill our mandate, we sought the views of a diverse community of experts, professionals, advocates, front-line workers, government officials, citizens and employers. It has been a privilege to engage with so many people over the last five months, and we are thankful to all those who provided their input, time and energy.

“Our report is now being translated, and will be provided to Ministers and the public once it is available in both official languages. Translation is expected to be complete in mid-December. The final report will then be received by Ministers and posted online at Canada.ca/Health. At that time, we will be pleased to speak to its content.”

The Task Force was announced in June of this year with the intention of engaging the public. The seven member panel, plus the Chair and Vice Chair, come from a variety of backgrounds including cannabis research, law enforcement,  and public health. The Task Force met with stakeholders from across Canada for several months, including leaders from all levels of government, activists, patients, law enforcement, public health experts and others. One Task Force member even made a long visit to Canada’s oldest medical cannabis compassion club, which was reportedly a moving experience for all involved.

The new government has pledged to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana, and has since announced that the head of the Task Force will be Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, Bill Blair. The Task Force’s presentation to the government is intended to help inform the government’s decisions as they craft legislation to introduce in Spring 2017.

While the government has promised to table legislation in spring 2017, the process itself could take months or even years to work out at the Federal, Provincial/Territorial and Municipal levels.

George Chow, one of the members of the Task Force, also sits on the Vancouver Board of Variance that has been hearing from dispensaries seeking to gain a variance to the city’s dispensary zoning rules. He had to recuse himself from the Vancouver board last July to avoid any conflict of interest.

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Quick facts on the consultations conducted by the Task Force:

  • The Task Force was created by the Ministers of Justice, Public Safety, and Health on June 30, 2016 to consult with Canadians and provide advice on how to meet the government’s commitment to legalize and regulate cannabis, to keep it out of the hands of youth, and keep the profits out of the hands of criminals. It is made up of nine distinguished Canadians who volunteered their expertise in public health, substance abuse, law enforcement, and justice.
  • The Task Force received nearly 30 000 responses to our online questionnaire, and organizations sent us nearly 300 submissions. We met with representatives of provincial and territorial governments, representing multiple ministries.
  • Experts from many sectors met with us at roundtable discussions across Canada. These experts came from a wide spectrum of disciplines and included researchers and academics, patients and their advocates, cannabis consumers, chiefs of police and fire departments, municipal and local government officials, as well as numerous industry, professional, health, and other associations.
  • Indigenous experts, representative organizations, governments and elders were invited to participate in a variety of Task Force engagement activities, including the expert roundtables, bilateral meetings and an Indigenous people’s roundtable.
  • We were pleased to hear from youth, both through our online questionnaire, as well as at a roundtable discussion focused on youth perspectives. Youth-serving organizations also participated in expert roundtables.
  • Many patients shared their perspectives on access to cannabis for medical purposes in a dedicated roundtable discussion as well as through the online questionnaire.
  • Internationally, we gained insight through our visits to both Colorado and Washington states, where cannabis use is legal, and through speaking with representatives of the Uruguayan government, which is the only nation to have a regulatory system for legal access to cannabis.
  • Here in Canada, we were also fortunate to visit several licensed producers, where we gained an understanding of the realities of regulated cannabis production in Canada today.

 

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