Canada launches long-awaited review of its cannabis regulations

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Canada launched a long-awaited review of its cannabis regulations on Thursday, four years after becoming the first major economy to legalize its recreational use.

A panel led by Morris Rosenberg, a former deputy justice minister, is to gauge the impact of legalization on young people, Indigenous peoples and others, as well as the economy and an illicit market that the new regime was supposed to move.

The panel must also consider the regulatory burdens on the industry and determine whether a separate framework for medical marijuana – which has been legal since 2001 – should be maintained in order to allow patient access.

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The mandatory exam, which arrives a year late due to the pandemic, is expected to take 18 months.

The industry has complained about what it calls unusually high cannabis taxes, a glut of stores – licensed and unlicensed – and restrictions on advertising and marketing that have made it harder to compete with the market. black.

At a press conference, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said preliminary data this year showed that 69% of the cannabis market had moved from illicit sources to legal and regulated suppliers.

The review, he said, will help the government “strengthen (cannabis) law so that it meets the needs of all Canadians while continuing to supplant the illicit market.”

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Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said: “We knew that young people were at increased risk for the harms of cannabis, such as mental health problems, including addiction and anxiety and depression.

Public awareness campaigns, she said, have made “young people aware of the harms of cannabis use”, but their level of use has not declined since legalization, as hoped.

On the contrary, it has remained relatively stable, she said.

According to government data, 25% of the population, or 9.5 million Canadians, used cannabis in 2021, a slight drop from the previous year.

They spent an average of 69 Canadian dollars (51 US dollars) on pot per month.

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