Government of Canada Launches Legislative Review of the Cannabis Act

Press Release

From: Health Canada

September 22, 2022

Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced the launch of the legislative review of the Cannabis Act.

The objective of the Cannabis Act is twofold. First, it aims to protect the health and safety of Canadians while serving as a flexible legislative framework that adapts and responds to the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians. Second, it provides for the establishment of a diverse and competitive legal industry made up of small and large players to displace the illicit market.

Parliamentarians recognized the need for an early assessment of the Government’s new approach to cannabis control, and included a provision requiring a review in the Act. The review will help ensure that the Act adapts to the current situation and continues to meet Canadians needs and expectations.

An independent Expert Panel, chaired by Mr. Morris Rosenberg, will lead a credible and inclusive review. Mr. Rosenberg is very well positioned to serve as Chair of the Expert Panel, with expertise and experience in the fields of justice, public health and public safety. He also has an informed understanding of the relationships between the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, and Indigenous peoples. We will announce the other four members of the Expert Panel 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 are invited to read Taking Stock of Progress: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation in Canada and to 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.

Quotes

“The work of the Expert Panel will address the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians while protecting their health and safety. Through this useful, inclusive and evidence-driven review, we will strengthen the Act so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to displace the illicit market. I look forward to receiving the Panel’s findings.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“Ensuring that this review is informed by the input of experts and interested partners in many fields, Indigenous partners, as well as individual Canadians, will be essential to the work being done by Mr. Rosenberg and the rest of the Expert Panel. Congratulations to him, and we look forward to the Panel’s Review. Their work will be vital for our Government to continue moving ahead in a responsible way, while also minimizing the health risks associated with cannabis, especially for young Canadians.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“I am honoured to be leading the Expert Panel in conducting a thorough, independent review of the Cannabis Act. I look forward to hearing the perspectives of the public, stakeholders, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples through the online engagement process underway.”

Mr. Morris Rosenberg
Chair of the Expert Panel

Quick facts

  • The Cannabis Act came into force on October 17, 2018, putting in place a new, strictly regulated framework for controlling the sale, possession, production and distribution of cannabis.
  • The Act requires the Minister of Health to conduct a review of the legislation, its administration, and operation three years after coming into force, and for the Minister to table a report on this review in both Houses of Parliament 18 months after the review begins.
  • The legislative review will assess the progress made towards achieving the Act’s objectives, and will evaluate:
    • Impacts on young persons;
    • 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;
    • Impacts of legalization and regulation on access to cannabis for medical purposes;
    • Impacts on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples and communities; and
    • Trends and impact of home cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes.

Associated links

Contacts

Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Maja Staka
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
343-552-5568

Media Relations
Health Canada
613-957-2983
[email protected]

Public Inquiries

613 957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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