Canada has released their What We Heard Report on the ongoing legislative review of the Cannabis Act.
The report is a summary of what the five-person expert panel has heard over the past year as it engaged with almost 500 stakeholders in nearly 90 meetings across Canada.
“We want to thank everyone who generously gave us their time and energy in sharing their perspectives and answering our questions,” said Morris Rosenberg, Chair of the Expert Panel. “We have heard a wide variety of perspectives throughout the consultations. A very rich and broad scientific literature was shared with us, as well as diverse lived and living experiences. We hope that we have captured the breadth and nuances of perspectives.”
The panel’s mandate was to look at the impact of cannabis legalization on different aspects of Canadian society and public health and safety, namely its impact on young people, on First Nations communities and peoples, and on peoples’ homes.
In regard to public health, the panel says they heard concerns from public health officials and medical experts for more strict monitoring of the program and maintaining policies like the current 10 mg edibles limit. At the same time, industry stressed concerns that such strict limits impact their financial success.
In regard to the impact of cannabis legalization on young people, the panel says they heard concerns about emergency department visits for young people who had consumed cannabis and a need for more research on diverse populations of youth.
In their engagement with First Nations, Indigenous and Metis communities in Canada, panelists heard concerns about a lack of engagement with these communities, concerns around issues of jurisdictional authority, as well as concerns with the impact of legalization on these communities’ public health and safety.
In regard to the impact of home growing on people’s homes— a concern repeated by many in the run-up to legalization—the panel says these issues were not commonly raised in their outreach. Some municipalities said they wanted to see a limit to the number of plants people can grow at home with a medical authorization. Some said they wanted more education on how to grow safely at home, especially indoors.
In addition to these specific topics the panel was required to look into, they also heard feedback on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the Act, with industry expressing concerns about financial viability and a lack of enforcement against the unregulated market, and that some marginalized communities still face uneven enforcement of cannabis laws, even post-legalization.
They also heard from advocates for the medical cannabis market who called for more research into medical cannabis and more support to ensure the integrity of the medical cannabis stream.
The next phase of the Expert Panel’s work will include the development of their final report to be tabled in Parliament by March 2024, as well as continued engagement through the fall.
The Expert Panel continues to welcome written submissions as it develops the final report. Submissions can be sent to [email protected].