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Canada marijuana task force releases report on legalization

December 13, 2016

Now is the time for Canada to move from prohibition and become the largest developed country to established a well-regulated legal marijuana industry, members of the country’s marijuana task force said Tuesday.

Canada’s marijuana legalization task force has outlined 80 recommendations for the country’s potential legal cannabis regime including a minimum purchase age of 18; penalties against impaired driving; regulations for packaging and pesticides; decriminalization efforts for minor offenses; and further robust research on the plant for public health, safety and potential medical purposes.

Canada is “well-positioned” to implement a framework for marijuana legalization that would establish a regulated, public health- and research-focused system that would displace the entrenched illicit market, heads of the task force said during a press conference and call Tuesday.

“The prohibitory regime that has existed is not working, and it is not meeting the basic principles of public health and safety that has to be at the core of this kind of public policy,” said Anne McLellan, the former deputy prime minister who serves as chair of the task force.

Canada’s government is expected to develop marijuana legislation in 2017. Financial analysts estimate that Canada’s legal marijuana market could total $4.5 billion by 2021.

The task force’s 106-page report is the result of five months of research and consultations that included 30,000 responses to an online questionnaire, meetings with provincial and territorial governments, interviews with experts across a variety of fields and industries, conversations with medical patients and international visits to Uruguay and U.S. states with adult-use marijuana laws such as Colorado and Washington.

The key takeaways from those interviews with legal marijuana markets included establishing baseline rules while also building flexibility into the framework, said Dr. Mark Ware, chairman of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine and the task force’s vice chair.

“Generally, we believe it is appropriate to proceed with caution,” McLellan said.

The task force’s recommendations did not include per se limits for marijuana impairment, deferring to ongoing work and research by the Drugs and Driving Committee, an arm of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science. The DDC is expected to submit a report to the government in the near future, McLellan said.