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Health Canada announces legislative review of Cannabis Act

Kevin Landry and Nikolas Shymko

The Cannabis Act came into force on October 17, 2018, putting in place framework for controlling the sale, possession, production and distribution of cannabis.

The Cannabis Act requires the Minister of Health to conduct a review of the legislation, its administration, and operation three years after coming into force. To fulfill this requirement, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions have announced this September, 2022 that an independent Expert Panel will lead a legislative review.

Phase One

The first phase of the Panel’s work will assess impacts of the Cannabis Act through issues identification, evidence gathering and analysis; engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples to determine areas of focus to guide the review; and engagement with stakeholders and the public. Although the Cannabis Act stipulates that this review must focus on the health and cannabis consumption habits of young persons, the impact of cannabis on Indigenous persons and communities, and the impact of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a housing context, Health Canada announced that the Panel will broaden that focus to include:

  • Economic, social and environmental impacts of the Cannabis Act;
  • Progress towards providing adults with access to strictly regulated, lower risk, legal cannabis products;
  • Progress made in deterring criminal activity and displacing the illicit cannabis market;
  • Impact of legalization and regulation on access to cannabis for medical purposes; and
  • Impacts on Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, and women who might be at greater risk of harm or face greater barriers to participation in the legal industry based on identity or socio-economic factors.

The Panel’s activities will be informed by an online public engagement process, supported by an engagement paper, Taking stock of progress: Cannabis legalization and regulation in Canada, which outlines the key features of the legislative framework, as well as national trends. The Panel will also be informed by feedback from First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners on the paper, Summary from engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples: The Cannabis Act and its impacts. Views on the engagement papers are welcome via the online questionnaire or through written feedback until November 21, 2022.

Phase Two

The second phase of the Panel’s work will focus on providing advice on areas of the legislative framework, or its implementation, that the Government could prioritize for improvement or reform. This will culminate in the preparation of a report to Parliament.


This update is intended for general information only. If you have questions about the above, please contact the authors.

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