Pubdate: Fri, 30 Dec 2016
Source: News-Times, The (Danbury, CT)
Copyright: 2016 The News-Times
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


While the US federal government remains stubbornly opposed to legalizing
marijuana, our neighbor to the north is increasingly interested in
cannabis commerce and moving away from pot prosecutions.

Even as voters in more U.S. states approved legalized recreational
marijuana this November - and 28 states have legalized medical marijuana -
the federal government still lists marijuana as an illegal drug.

However, just north of the border, Canadian leaders have started moving in
the opposite direction.

Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada and leader of the Liberal
Party, created a committee in the summer of 2016 to look into the issues
surrounding making marijuana legal for recreational use across the entire

The panel recently submitted its findings. They call for a tightly
controlled, heavily regulated recreational market that aims to provide
adults who want to use cannabis a safe and legal way to buy it, while at
the same time cracking down on the marijuana "black market."

The panel, chaired by former Canadian Deputy Primate Minister Anne
McLellan, wrote in its report that if put into action their
recommendations will "strike a balance between implementing appropriate
restrictions, in order to minimize the harms associated with cannabis use,
and providing adults access to a regulated supply of cannabis while
reducing the scope and scale of the illicit market and its social harms."

Trudeau has said he expects to file legislation based on the panel's
recommendations in the spring of 2017.

Different approach in Canada.

In the U.S., some in the marijuana industry have voiced concerns about
President-elect Donald Trump's position on legalized marijuana,
particularly since his nominee for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff
Sessions, have been a vocal opponent of legalized marijuana.

In Canada, the Liberal Party has taken a clear stance on making
recreational marijuana legal. On the party's website, it states: "We will
legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana."

"Canada's current system of marijuana prohibition does not work," they
further state. "It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and
too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small
amounts of the drug."

The party hopes that legalizing recreational marijuana will reduce the
amount available to young people and also keep the profits "out of the
hands of criminals."

Getting there, according to the panel, will take a great deal of work on
the part of the national government.

Key recommendations.

The lengthy panel report focuses on taking a public health approach to
regulating legalized marijuana. In doing so, the panel considered health
issues such as chronic use of marijuana, mixing it with abuse of other
substances (such as alcohol) and young people having too much access to
cannabis. They also took into consideration the dangers of interaction
with the illicit marijuana market.

Some of the key recommendations include. * Regulating advertising so it
will not appeal to young people, or associate marijuana with use of other
substances such as tobacco or alcohol

* Set the legal age limit at 18

* Requiring packaging that clearly states what the product contains,
including strain of cannabis and amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the
ingredient in marijuana that causes the "high"

* Conducting sales only through specialty stores licensed by the government

* Homeowners could have up to four cannabis plants, and individuals could
carry up to 30 grams in public

* Creating a "seed-to-sale" tracking system for recreational cannabis

* Extending the restrictions on public smoking of tobacco products in
Canada to include cannabis

* Strengthening penalties for selling cannabis outside the legal system

Related: Staffers Pick Their Favorite Solutions of 2016

While the panel concludes that creating a government-run infrastructure
for cannabis sales will take time and effort, they conclude that "Canada
is well-positioned to undertake the complex task of legalizing and
regulating cannabis carefully and safely."
- ---
MAP posted-by: