Canada’s cannabis law review on schedule for spring release

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A panel of experts scrutinizing Canada’s federal Cannabis Act is on schedule to release its review and recommendations this spring, the country’s national regulator told MJBizDaily.

Cannabis industry officials will be watching closely for recommendations related to the economic, social and environmental impacts of the Cannabis Act, which could lead to reform that has ramifications for the heavily regulated industry.

The 2018 Cannabis Act required the formal review to examine the law’s impact on public health, consumption patterns and effect on Indigenous communities.

It was subsequently broadened to cover:

  • The law’s economic and environmental impacts.
  • Progress toward providing access to legal products.
  • Its impact on access to medical cannabis.
  • Its impact on Indigenous peoples, racial communities and women, who have faced significant barriers to participating in the legal industry.

Per the terms of reference guiding the review, the panel’s final report is supposed to be delivered to Canada’s health ministers no later than 18 months after the establishment of the panel – that would mean March 2024.

After that, the report will be presented, or tabled, “in both Houses of Parliament by spring 2024,” a Health Canada spokesperson told MJBizDaily via email.

“Once the final report is tabled in Parliament, Health Canada will carefully review the Panel’s recommendations,” the spokesperson added.

In October, the panel released its preliminary report outlining troubles plaguing the nation’s cannabis industry.

“A main message from industry representatives was that, despite the growth of the legal cannabis market, companies across the supply chain are struggling to realize profits and maintain financial viability,” the report noted.

In the second phase of the review, the panel was tasked with working with provinces and territories to identify “priority areas” for action that might have implications for their respective jurisdictions under the Cannabis Act as well as for businesses operating in the industry.

Any advice from the panel could have major implications for regulated and illegal cannabis operators as well as companies still operating in gray areas throughout Canada – depending on the specific recommendations and whether the government commits to implementing them.

The internal Terms of Reference guiding the Cannabis Act review is available here.

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