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Canada Issues Legalization Report as Raids on Dispensaries Continue

Canada Legalization

After five months of research, the Canadian government’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regualtion released its exhaustive 106-page report on Dec. 13. Made up of medical professionals, drug policy researchers, and other experts, the task force consulted patients and other governments that have legalized adult-use and perused 30,000 comments from the public.

The highly anticipated report is non-binding. Although the federal government, which appointed the task force, could choose to ignore its recommendations, it is expected to take into consideration much of the report’s content when it implements legalization in this year.

Here are some of the main points from the report:

• Set age of purchase to 18.
• Restrictions on advertising and marketing similar to tobacco.
• Require plain, child-resistant packaging on all cannabis products.
• “Appropriate” labeling including warning labels and THC, CBD levels.
• Higher taxes for products with higher THC.
• Licensing to encourage a diverse market that includes small businesses.
• Home grow limited to four plants.
• Allow jurisdictions to permit social use.
• Maintain a separate medical cannabis program.

A controversy has developed over the proposed age limit. While the Canadian Medical Association had previously recommended an age limit of 21, some health experts interviewed by the task force argued that there was no “safe age” for cannabis consumption based on available scientific evidence.

“We heard from many participants that setting the minimum age too high risked preserving the illicit market, particularly since the highest rates of use are in the 18 to 24 age range,” the report states. “A minimum age that was too high also raised concerns of further criminalization of youth, depending on the approach to enforcement.”

Anne McLellan, cChair of the task force, thinks a “vigorous public education campaign” would be a better than criminalization to deter youth use. She told the Toronto Star: “[Eighteen] is an age at which we believe in our society young people are capable of making informed responsible decisions.”

Authorities in Canada have come under fire recently for law enforcement raids on cannabis dispensaries, especially in Montreal where several Cannabis Culture shops were shut down after just opening on Dec. 15. The raids also resulted in the arrests of high-profile Canadian activists Marc and Jodie Emery.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who rode into office in 2014 on a wave of support from legalizers, defended the raids, emphasizing that without a regulated market, “current prohibition still stands.”

“We’re not legalizing marijuana to please recreational users,” he added.

The federal government plans on introducing legalization legislation this spring.

Abi Roach, a director at the Cannabis Friendly Business Association, told the Toronto Sun that she had campaigned hard for Trudeau, but “all we’ve seen is raids and arrests and more criminal records and more issues and more problems… Wow, was I cheated or what. I think that’s the way most cannabis consumers feel.”


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