Article by David Brown, Lift
Lift had a chance to speak with the chair of the government’s task force on the legalization and regulation of cannabis, the Honourable Anne A. McLellan, about the task force’s process and recommendations, as well as the harm reduction model of legalization Canada is taking on.
Among her many positions in government, McLellan has served as Minister of Justice (1997 to 2002) and Minister of Health (2002 to 2003), as well as Canada’s first Public Safety Minister (2003-2005), and as such, has a unique perspective on the government’s transition and evolution on the subject of managing cannabis. All three of these departments are tasked with addressing aspects of the government’s approach to legalization, and placing the only person with experience in all three of these ministries at the head of the task force can certainly aid in harmonizing this process.
Our conversation highlights some of the challenges in harmonizing various stakeholder’s expectations, from commercial producers to activists, law enforcement, public health officials and concerned parents.
While prohibition has failed, says McLellan, its goals – removing control from organized crime and better controlling youth access – remain. At the same time, she points out that it’s ultimately up to parents to educate their kids, and the government needs to provide useful tools and accurate information so parents can protect their families as they see fit.
McLellan recognizes the concern from many in the existing illicit industry, often referred to as craft or legacy producers, that they are being muscled out by a regulatory system that favours a ‘corporate’ environment. The task force recommends including these types of producers in a future legal system, but McLellan emphasizes that under a legal regime, they will still have to be licensed and regulated like all other food or drug producers.