The Canadian Liberal Party, fronted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, swept into power last year on the promise of more sensible social laws that protect rather than antagonize. One of the key promises of that campaign was to shift the national approach to cannabis. While Canada has always been ahead of America on sensible drug policy, cannabis legalization would confirm Canada’s status as a bastion for responsible drug policies.

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In America, political promises are flimsy and evaporate at the first sign of friction. Trudeau’s party on the other hand has said from the beginning that the goal is to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.”

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A panel of regulators focusing on cannabis legalization recently submitted a report that calls for tighter controls on a regulated market in an effort to reduce illicit markets and the crime inherent with those operations. The nine member task force was composed by the Ministers of Justice, Public Safety, and Health earlier in June of 2016.

The report itself is incredibly detailed in the many possible ways to minimize the social harms of cannabis use while ensuring a regulated supply chain that enforces public safety and continued medical access.

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Among the recommendations presented by the panel were several components that have been present in all legalization attempts seen over the past five years:

  • Minimum age requirements to reduce youth exposure (18 currently recommended)
  • Specialty licensing for cannabis retailers with similar restrictions as alcohol and tobacco sellers
  • Marketing and advertising restrictions
  • Mandated product packaging that reflects risks and potency of the item
  • A safe supply chain with a “seed-to-sale” tracking program designed for traceability
  • Personal use cultivation opportunities (4 plants per household currently recommended)
  • Personal possession of cannabis in public (30 grams currently recommended)
  • Harsh penalties for the sale and distribution of unregulated cannabis
  • Taxation that promotes legal sales and funds education programs for youth and disaffected individuals
  • Workplace safety regulations and impaired driving provisions

Many of these recommendations are directly based on legalization attempts in the United States, most notably California which has similar population demographics and geographic dispersion constraints. Prime Minister Trudeau has accepted the report with open arms, and expects to introduce legislation in the first couple of months of 2017.

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As America enters an uncertain age with an unpredictable leader set to take the helm, Canada marks one of the focal points for cannabis legalization in North America.

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