Report on Canada’s Marijuana Legalization Due This Week

Article by Kelly Cryderman, The Globe and Mail

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Ottawa’s march toward a controlled market for legal marijuana in Canada takes a major step forward this week with the delivery of a task force report that includes advice on a minimum age, product warnings and measures to prevent drug-impaired driving.

The report on pot legalization will be delivered to cabinet by Wednesday, said task force chair Anne McLellan, a lawyer and former federal cabinet minister in the Chrétien and Martin governments.

Ms. McLellan said her nine-person group – which has received 30,000 online submissions and visited U.S. states with experience in the legalization process – has authored a responsible, fair and balanced report that will “engender a lot of interest.”

Speaking on the sidelines of a Bennett Jones LLP business forum last week, Ms. McLellan said it’s hard to understate how significant a psychological shift will be required as law enforcement, governments and Canadians as a whole adapt to marijuana legalization – a key policy plank of the federal Liberal government.

Right now, production and possession of marijuana is illegal unless it has been authorized for medical purposes, but the government estimates the illegal marijuana industry’s size at $7-billion, annually.

Ottawa has committed to introducing legislation in the spring that will move marijuana “from a criminal regime, where this was an illegal substance with criminal sanctions – some of them very serious – to a legalized product in a regulated marketplace,” Ms. McLellan said. It’s important to move slowly, and deliberately, in implementation, she added.

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