Canada legalization chief: Let black-market MJ growers join

The chair of the Canadian government’s marijuana legalization task force believes black-market growers should be allowed to participate in the country’s new recreational cannabis industry.

Such a move could affect business opportunities. The federal government’s proposal stipulated that newer, smaller cultivators would be given an opportunity to participate in the nation’s new rec industry, although existing licensed medical marijuana producers would get first dibs on the new licenses.

Anne McLellan, chair of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, said black-market growers could make a valuable contribution to the rec industry’s development.

“There’s an awful lot of expertise that’s outside the legal system right now, and you wouldn’t want to lose all that,” McLellan told the Financial Post. The task force she led made many recommendations that were incorporated into the government’s proposed Cannabis Act to legalize recreational marijuana.

“There are lots of people who are producing now illegally – we talk about artisanal and craft producers – we want a diversity of producers,” added McLellan, now a senior adviser at Bennett Jones LLP.

That’s one reason the task force recommended that criminal convictions not automatically disqualify cultivators from growing in the legal market, McLellan said.

“We didn’t want all those people excluded automatically from the possibility of participating in some way,” McLellan told the Financial Post.

Under Canada’s current medical marijuana regime, people applying for jobs with the country’s licensed producers must disclose past drug convictions. Health Canada, which tightly regulates the nation’s MMJ market, takes into consideration a crime’s seriousness when deciding whether a person may pose a hazard to an employer.