The Canadian government still has no publicly projected launch date for its mandatory review of the country’s 2018 recreational cannabis legalization law, more than eight months after the reappraisal was due to begin.
The delayed review is holding back progress toward much-needed regulatory reforms for Canada’s legal cannabis industry, according to one industry executive.
“There’s a lot that needs to be done with the legislative review,” Rick Savone, senior vice president of global government relations at Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis and chair of the industry group Cannabis Council of Canada, told MJBizDaily.
“And because that’s being held up, very little is getting done from a regulatory or from a legislative perspective.”
The review, which will result in a report to parliament, was supposed to begin by October 2021, three years after Canada legalized recreational cannabis.
However, MJBizDaily reported in February that the review had not yet begun.
Four months later, Health Canada still will not provide MJBizDaily with a timeline for when the review would begin.
A Health Canada spokesperson reiterated the federal department’s previous statement, describing the upcoming review as a “credible, evidence-driven process.
“Preparations are underway for the launch of the legislative review,” the spokesperson said via email.
In the meantime, Canada’s legal cannabis industry is waiting for the review to get underway – and even once it starts, it could last as long as 18 months, according to the 2018 cannabis legislation.
“All of the players are waiting to see what happens with the statutory review to be able to make the improvements that are required. I think there’s almost a consensus about what needs to be done for the sector,” Aurora’s Savone said.
“So we’re stuck waiting. And every day we wait, our competitors, especially our global competitors, get better positioned in this market.”
Canadian cannabis industry players previously told MJBizDaily that they want to use the review as a forum to address issues including:
- Marketing and advertising restrictions.
- Cannabis edibles potency limits.
- Government regulatory fees.
- Cannabis excise taxes.
Industry insiders say they plan to address several of the same issues through an upcoming cannabis roundtable that will bring together government officials and industry leaders.
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Meanwhile, the Canadian federal government’s recently updated Forward Regulatory Plan for 2022 through 2024 lays out several regulatory changes for the country’s cannabis industry that “Health Canada aims to propose or finalize in the next 2 years,” all of which have been previously announced.
Those potential regulatory changes include:
- Streamlining some regulatory obligations “to simplify and reduce requirements related to record keeping, reporting and notifications, and to provide more flexibility in meeting certain requirements related to matters such as antimicrobial treatment.”
- Amending cannabis regulations to potentially “restrict the production, sale, promotion, packaging, or labelling of inhaled cannabis extracts with certain flavors, other than the flavor of cannabis.”
- Amending cannabis regulations to “facilitate cannabis research for non-therapeutic purposes” as well as increasing the public possession limit for cannabis beverages, which would allow consumers to larger amounts of cannabis beverages in a single purchase.
- Allowing certain health products containing cannabis to be sold without a prescription.
Changes to cannabis beverage possession limits will not be ready before this fall, according to Health Canada.
Solomon Israel can be reached at email@example.com.