Canada Legalization Panel Calls for 18+ Access

Cannabis is on the verge of legalizing cannabis use for all adults over 21 years of age.

The official recommendations for Canada’s legal cannabis market are out, and they include full access for all adults over 18 years of age.

Tuesday saw Canadian officials commit to researching the findings of the nation’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation after it issued its final report at the end of November.

The nine-member task force originally convened in June with the goal of creating a basic framework of what the legalization of cannabis would look like in Canada. Their public health-centric approach promises to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access.”

In total, the task force received over 30,000 submissions from the public, policy makers and organizations who wanted have their say in what the forthcoming process would look like. They also looked around the world at what legalization models have looked like in places like Colorado, Washington, and Uruguay.

Under the guidance of the Ministers of Justice, Public Safety, and Health, they built their plan around the guiding principles of protection of public health and safety, compassion, fairness, collaboration, and a commitment to evidence-informed policy and flexibility.

The task force itself was made up of quite the cross-section of Canadians.

On the public health side, it features some of the finest physicians the country had to offer, including a McGill University professor and the former chief public health officer for British Columbia. On the public safety and policy side, a judge, a retired police officer, a criminologist and a former Deputy Prime Minister was included. There’s even a dash of the Great One himself — Wayne Gretzky — with task force Chairwoman The Honorable A. Anne McLellan currently serving on the board of directors for Gretzky.

Cannabis Now spoke with longtime Canadian cannabis activist Adam Greenblatt, who now serves as the Head of Quebec Engagement for Tweed, the first and largest publicly traded marijuana company in the world. Previously he served as Director of Cannabis Access — now known as Santé Cannabis — which at one point it was the premier (and only) dispensary on the East coast of North America.

“The task force recommendations are on point, what they’ve produced bodes well for consumers, society, and the industry all in one,” Greenblatt said. “There are some concerns, but nobody is screaming about the sky falling. None of those concerns are insurmountable roadblocks.”

One of the problems in Greenblatt’s view is the fact that medical cannabis patients would not have their own separate tax bracket, and all taxes associated with the recreational model would also fall on them.

He said he’d hoped more protections would be put in place for some of the most vulnerable Canucks.

“These patients are spending an arm and a leg already,” he said, adding that the recommended packaging standards of plain containers are a hindrance to informing consumers. “It would prevent us from communicating with our clients — we’re already childproof.”

But Greenblatt said there’s much to celebrate in these guidelines. 

“The safeguards and proven best practices of the medical system will be the backbone of the future recreational market,” he said. “All quality controls and recall ability will be easily transferable to. That’s probably what we’re most stoked on.”

He added that the Canadian Globosphere need not fear the future of their beloved dabs.

“They recommended no THC caps on inhaled products, so dabs will be fine,”  he said, with the caveat that those dabs might not be cheap. “With the tasks force’s recommendation of a THC content tax, dabs would be taxed at a higher rate than flowers or edibles.”

Some had noted the timing of the announcement — on the heels of Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau’s recent bad press on the subject — was suspicious, but Greenblatt isn’t putting on his tinfoil hat just yet.

“They’re not connected: they refuse to decriminalize in the meantime, [and] the frustration’s warranted. There will be raids as this is moved out over the next couple years, we’ll still be living under prohibition,” he said. “But it’s important they take their time to get this right. We’re the most industrialized country to in the world to be having these discussions at the federal level, the whole world has their eyes on this.”

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Jimi Devine has been involved in the cannabis movement since 2005, and joined the industry full time in 2009 after moving to the Bay Area from Boston. He currently works with Smell the Truth on SFGate,The Hash Podcast, and was involved in the organization of New West Summit in San Francisco last Fall. His writings on cannabis products and policy have been seen in The Boston Globe, SFGate, The Hill, The Chronicle of Higher Education, StopTheDrugWar.org, and HailMaryJane.com.

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