Cannabis Act Needs Changes to Boost Legal Sector, Displace Illicit Market: Experts

The Canadian government needs to find a way to help the legal marijuana industry compete with the illicit market, according to experts. The Cannabis Act, which legalized marijuana in 2018, is up for review and the federal Health Minister stated that the government is trying to find ways to meet the needs of all Canadians and push back the illicit market.

In 2018, the Cannabis Act legalized recreational marijuana in Canada and the government was supposed to review it three years after it became a law. The review is being carried out by a five-member panel including health, public policy, and law experts, and it started in September. The results are expected to be announced by spring 2024.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos shared in a news release, “The work of the expert panel will address the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians while protecting their health and safety. Through this useful, inclusive, and evidence-driven review, we will strengthen the Act so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to displace the illicit market.”

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Cannabis Council of Canada (C3), however, feels that some rules and regulations that are meant to be in place to protect public health are holding the legal market back. C3 suggested that some changes be made to the Cannabis Act such as ending the taxation of medical cannabis, reducing the number of restrictions on package labeling and advertising, and lowering the excise tax on cannabis products.

Statistics Canada’s latest data recorded between January and October of 2022 shows that Cannabis stores sold products worth around $3.8 billion across Canada. This was about as much was sold in the entire year of 2021. If the government does not make changes to the Cannabis Act, some stores may be forced to shut down. “Your best indicator of the future is the past. So, if you look at the Government of Canada and the provincial governments’ approach to the economic challenges facing the cannabis industry, there’s no track record of success,” he said.

Vineet Washington

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