Sources: Canada’s Cannabis Act review won’t launch until after queen’s funeral

The Canadian government is delaying the launch of the mandatory review of the country’s 2018 recreational cannabis law because of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, sources told MJBizDaily.

Queen Elizabeth II, who was Canada’s monarch, died Sept. 8 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

The review had been expected to begin Wednesday in a joint announcement by Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s health minister, and Carolyn Bennett, minister of mental health and addictions, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because they don’t have permission to speak on the matter.

The launch is now expected to happen after the late monarch’s Sept. 19 funeral.

The ministers are expected to begin an 18-month review of Prime Minister Trudeau’s historic legislation.

After the review is completed, a report will be submitted to parliament.

The review was supposed to start by October 2021, three years after Canada legalized recreational cannabis.

Health Canada has not provided MJBizDaily with a timeline for when the review would begin, nor would Canada’s health department confirm the launch or postponement of the review.

Replying to MJBizDaily queries, a Health Canada spokesperson said that “the government is committed to putting into place a credible, evidence-driven process for the legislative review, which will assess the progress made towards achieving the objectives of the Cannabis Act.”

“Preparations are underway for the launch of the legislative review,” the spokesperson said.

The Canadian government has taken that stance for almost a year.

“As set out in the legislation, the legislative review must study the impact of the Act on public health,” the spokesperson said.

“In particular, it must look at the impact on the health and consumption habits of young persons with respect to cannabis use; the impact of cannabis on Indigenous persons and communities; and the impact of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house.”

Health Canada’s response does not suggest the review will consider meaningful reforms requested by the industry.

Canadian industry players previously told MJBizDaily they hope to use the review to address issues such as:

  • Cannabis excise taxes.
  • Edibles potency limits.
  • Government fees.
  • Marketing and advertising restrictions.

Canada’s largest cannabis producers have lost upward of 16 billion Canadian dollars ($12.3 billion), largely because of business decisions such as massive overproduction, leading to mass destruction of cannabis.

Since 2018, almost 900 million grams (roughly 900 tons) of unpackaged dried cannabis has been destroyed by licensed producers because of overproduction and quality issues – a weight approximately equal to 650 Toyota Prius cars.

In June, the Canadian federal government updated its Forward Regulatory Plan through 2024, which lays out several regulatory changes for the cannabis industry that “Health Canada aims to propose or finalize in the next 2 years.”

Those details had previously been announced.

Previously announced changes to cannabis beverage possession limits will not be ready before this fall, according to Health Canada.

The Canadian industry had been hoping to capitalize on those alterations this summer.

Matt Lamers can be reached at matt.lamers@mjbizdaily.com.