The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, mandated by the Canadian federal government to provide recommendations with regard to Prime Minister Trudeau and his Parliament-controlling Liberal Party’s election promise to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Canada, released its report and findings today.
At a press conference, chair of the task force, Anne McLellan, stated that “now is the time” for Canadian marijuana to be legalized. The Canadian member of Parliament urged the federal government to “proceed with caution” and to “expect surprises.” Replacing an “entrenched illicit market” with a regulated one was held up by the MP as a goal of government.
The task force’s recommendations include limiting the consumption of marijuana to those 18 years of age and older, while allowing provinces to set the age at 19, along with restrictions with regard to the proximity of retailers to schools. It is recommended that edible marijuana products be sold in child-proof, opaque containers and that restrictions on marketing and advertising be put in place, including a ban on material that would be found appealing by children.
The task force described the process that must be engaged at federal, provincial, and municipal levels to ensure the success of a “complex” goal and recommended an increased campaign of awareness in the time leading up to the introduction of new legislation expected in the spring, as well as increased law enforcement efforts in the years following.
The new Canada marijuana recommendations allow for the possession of 30 grams of pot for personal use and the cultivation of four plants per residence. The cultivation recommendations include that “reasonable security measures to prevent theft and youth access” be utilized and that personal grow ops meet with “oversight and approval” on the part of local authorities.
McLellan stated that provinces are tasked with developing both wholesale and retail market models that are appropriate for their residents, with the report including the recommendation that “storefronts with well-trained, knowledgeable staff” be permitted, as well as mail-order retail facilities.
The group recommended that products which mix marijuana and other drugs, such as nicotine and caffeine, be prohibited and that alcohol and cannabis products should not be sold at the same retail locations.
Within the legal framework being proposed, the task force recommended criminal penalties for production and sale outside of the new system, with a special focus on stopping the sale of cannabis to minors and the export of Canada marijuana products outside of the country. The report mentions “exemptions for social sharing.” Also within the new system, the report recommends “cannabis lounges and tasting rooms” if provinces wish to permit them, as well as an extension of all current legislation with regard to the use of tobacco in public to include marijuana.
A question left unanswered in the report is whether there is a dependable “per se” limit of THC in the blood that can measure a person’s level of inebriation or impairment after consuming cannabis products. The report states that the force urges the “development of an appropriate roadside drug screening device.”
Canada is said to be only the second country to mandate the legalization of marijuana on a federal level; the size of the market that subsequently develops and the tax revenue the government is able to earn from it will be the subject of close scrutiny both within the country and abroad. Members of the task force were said to have consulted with counterparts in Colorado and Washington, where cannabis has been legalized at a state level.
It is recommended that marijuana sold in Canada be required to have packaging that details the “company name, strain name, price, amounts of THC and CBD and warnings.”
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