Legislation Update

 

Canada’s Liberal Party has taken the first legislative step in ending the prohibition on cannabis in Canada that has existed for almost a century.

On April 13 this year, in Ottawa, the Minister of Justice introduced a Bill into the House of Commons to make Canada the first country in the G8/G20 to make the recreational use of cannabis legal for adults, ushering in a watershed moment in global public policy.

It is worth mentioning that it was the Minister of Justice & Attorney General of Canada, not the Minister of Health, who introduced the Bill. This is a departure from how the policy issue has been dealt with in Canada up until now. Both the medical and recreational cannabis branches are currently housed within Health Canada. This indicates to us that there will likely be a differentiation of the two regimes moving forward. 

The government has chosen to stick with the existing licensed production (LP) model that is in place for medical cannabis for the supply of the recreational market.  

The issue will now become supply as many of the existing producers increase capital expenditures into the creation of more space for growing the plant to meet demand. The government plans to support this. The introduction of the Bill follows the recent government announcement to radically increase the processing time for new applicants for the licensed model with the hiring of more than a dozen new inspectors for facilities and applicants looking to become Licensed Producers.

Also as predicted, the government will maintain the pre-existing medical mail order delivery system for recreational cannabis. This is seen as a stop gap measure which will enable the recreational regime to take off while each province designs their plan for retail environments. The legislation is clear, sales in a retail environment must happen from a “licensed” distributor, but this remains undefined. Details on age of consumption, amounts, retail environment, and taxes will be decided by the provinces. The mail order system will remain in place in provinces that do not have a retail environment.

Initially, the government is only set to legalize oils and dried cannabis which is the same as the current regime on the medical side. This, rightfully, will close the door on THC candy, but the government has indicated that they will allow edibles of some type “in the future”.

Now that the Bill has been introduced, we are in a process where there will be debate and votes in the House of Commons prior to the Bill being referred to committee for study. Over the next few months we expect that multiple committees will call witnesses from across the spectrum to testify on the Bill. Committee members will then have a chance to amend the Bill, or pass it as written, and return it to the House of Commons for a final vote. The process will then repeat itself in the Senate. While this seems like a straight-forward path, the new independent and non-partisan Senators could generate debate on this Bill. 

Medical Research

The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMBR) supports cannabis research throughout the State of California. Research to date has focused on the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis for diseases and conditions identified by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine Report (1999) and by the Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana, National Institutes of Health (1997).

News from the CMBR can be found here: http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/

Details of the completed CMBR studies can be found here:

http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/index.php/2015-11-20-20-52-15/completed-studies

Catherine Harvey