In 1923, Canadian citizens fell victim to the worldwide slander of cannabis, deeming the plant an illegal substance. Since this time, people from all over the world have awoken to the pretension and insincerity involved in cannabis illegality. After thorough debate and in response to popular demand by the majority of Canadian citizens, in July 2018, Canada will join Uruguay as the second nation on the planet to become fully cannabis tolerant.
In 2016 the “Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation” was created to legalize, regulate and monitor access to cannabis. The task force is comprised of nine Canadians of varied skillsets and career backgrounds; the interdisciplinary measures are meant to provide well rounded advice to the Canadian government in order to design a safe legal cannabis culture. To increase the efficacy and legitimacy of the future legal cannabis system, the task force openly accepted the opinions of the Canadian people (including the youth), provincial governments, and experts from the healthcare field. The task force is collectively viewing legal cannabis through a public health lens, the overarching aim being to minimize harm and promote increased overall quality of life. This approach is wise considering the lack of relevant cannabis evidence available, in order to set a strong worldwide platform for cannabis culture, the task force must consider all unforeseen consequences.
As a nation Canada has a rich history of cannabis use and cultivation amongst its’ citizens. Canada approved medicinal cannabis in 2001 and has always strived to genuinely regulate the medicinal cannabis industry. Currently, cannabis is legal for medicinal purposes with a prescription from a medical doctor however, the medicinal cannabis industry in Canada restricts producers to grow crops in warehouses by licensed producers. These 36 Health Canada-licensed producers are then only allowed to transport their products to consumers via mail or courier service; this unorthodox method is due to cannabis dispensaries still being illegal in Canada. The Task Force recently recommended that the Canadian government regulate the production of cannabis while the provinces control distribution and retail sales. This equates to all producers of cannabis and cannabis products being licensed through the federal government but the distribution of cannabis will be on a province by province basis.
Cannabis regulation has quickly began to take shape with many principles from the regulation of tobacco and alcohol being considered the standard. The federal age limit for purchasing cannabis will be 18 which each province has authority to change. Updated sensible laws will allow all Canadians of legal age to possess 30 grams of cannabis legally. Another focus of new regulation will be requiring companies that claim any therapeutic value of cannabis to coordinate with government agencies to ensure claims are viable. (For a more comprehensive list of new laws visit the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation website)
With impending legalization, the Canadian Cannabis industry is being formed quickly and is set to explode. The value of Canada’s cannabis stocks have escalated to new heights due to investor optimism around recreational sales which could reach C$6 billion annually by 2021. However, the use of recreational cannabis remains illegal until July 1, 2018. While not a primary concern, Canadian law enforcement officials are allowed to pursue criminal charges for cannabis possession/consumption if not licensed by Health Canada until July 2018. As we continue to endure the wait for cannabis liberty in Canada, be safe and enjoy as the cannabis culture further evolves.