canada recreational cannabis, Canada’s Senate passes cannabis bill; industry ‘deeply concerned’ with amendments

Canada’s marijuana industry hailed the passage of the recreational legalization bill by the Senate, but executives are concerned about some of the pending law’s amendments.

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 56-30 after months of tumultuous debate. The Cannabis Act now goes back to the House of Commons, which can accept, amend or reject any of the amendments.

More than 40 amendments were added to the final version of the bill.

Industry sources say some of the changes – related to branding, privacy and a possible THC cap – would make it harder to take over the black market.

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“We think the House of Commons should return this legislation (to the Senate) without approval of three amendments. We think they’re problematic,” said Allan Rewak, executive director of industry body Cannabis Canada Council.

The group’s membership includes roughly 60 of Canada’s 105 licensed producers.

“We do believe some of these amendments have significant unintended consequences that will make our mission harder of stamping out the black market, keeping profits away from organized crime and cannabis away from kids,” Rewak said.

One amendment prohibits “brand stretching” – the use of cannabis brand elements that are not on packaging or accessories.

“It goes beyond the idea of T-shirts and hats,” Rewak said. The Senate’s amendment would ban retailers from having uniforms with marijuana-related logos and could prevent cannabis stores from having MJ-focused, publicly facing signs.

Industry executives also are deeply concerned with potential privacy violations that the amended financial reporting standards would require.

Shareholders with more than 5% of any class of shares for a cannabis company would be made public – a standard that doesn’t apply to any other industry in Canada.

Another amendment would give regulators the authority to cap THC potency, drawing concern that it would make it harder to compete against the black market.

“We need to be able to communicate with adults about the brands they’re buying,” Rewak said. “We need to be able to operate according to normal financial disclosure rules that are already the highest in the world.

“And we need to be able to give our clients and patients the products they need and want.”

Matt Lamers can be reached at mattl@mjbizdaily.com

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