Full panel announced for Cannabis Act review

| David Brown

Health Canada has announced new members of the independent expert panel to lead a review of the Cannabis Act. 

As part of the review, which was announced in September after nearly a year-long delay, the  Minister of Health and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions announced that an independent expert panel will lead the legislative review. At the time of the announcement, only the panel chair, Morris Rosenberg, was announced.

Today’s announcement adds four new names to this list; Dr. Oyedeji Ayonrinde, Dr. Patricia J. Conrod, Lynda L. Levesque, and Dr. Peter Selby.

Dr. Ayonrinde is an Associate Professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at Queen’s University, Dr. Conrod is a registered clinical psychologist and a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Addiction at the University of Montreal, and researcher at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Centre.

Levesque is a criminal lawyer and a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba, and Dr. Selby is the Giblon Professor, Vice Chair of Research, and Head of the Mental Health and Addictions Division in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto.

The panel’s work is divided into two phases. The first is a “factual assessment” of the impacts of the Cannabis Act, informed by the results of a recent public engagement process that ended on November 21. Health Canada has an additional engagement process for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples that has been extended until January 15, 2023.

The second phase of the panel’s work will focus on providing advice to the government on what aspects of the legislative framework, or its implementation, can be improved or reformed. 

Feedback from this engagement process will be released in a report, to be published online. This input will also be used to inform findings and recommendations for the panel’s final report to be tabled in both Houses of Parliament, within 18 months of the launch of the review, which would be early 2024. 

The review will focus primarily on the impact of legalization on young persons, on Indigenous communities, and the impact of growing cannabis at home. The Cannabis Act has a mandated review written into the Act itself to look at these three key points of concern.

However, the review will also expand its focus to look at: the economic, social, and environmental aspects of the Cannabis Act; the progress of providing adults with access to legal cannabis; the success in removing criminal activity from the market; the impact of legalization on access to cannabis for medical purposes and, more specifically, whether all aspects of the current medical cannabis framework are, or will still be, needed in the future to ensure access for those who use cannabis for medical purposes.