The Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation
Table of Contents
Chapter 2: Minimizing Harms of Use
• Introduction: a public health approach
• Minimum age
• Promotion, advertising and marketing restrictions
• Cannabis-based edibles and other products
• THC potency
• Tax and price
• Public education
• Prevention and treatment
• Workplace safety
• Annex 1: Biographies of Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Members
• Annex 2: Terms of Reference
• Annex 3: Acknowledgements
• Annex 4: Discussion Paper ‘Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana’
• Annex 5: Executive Summary: Analysis of consultation input submitted to the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation
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(Ottawa, Ontario – February 23, 2016) — The federal government should instruct police forces and Crown Prosecutors across Canada immediately to halt all criminal investigations, charges and prosecutions related to simple possession of marijuana while it proceeds with its initiative to legalize the plant, according to Canada’s oldest advocate for the reform of cannabis laws.
“Since everyone agrees that is well past time to end the criminalization of cannabis,” Dr. Craig Jones, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Canada (NORML Canada) said, “and the only point of discussion left is how to do it, it seems cruel to continue criminalizing more Canadians.”
“It is like refusing to fix a leaking faucet because you intend to renovate the bathroom … one day soon. It just doesn’t make sense.”
According to Dr. Jones, the government has identified several “stumbling blocks” to immediate legalization — which formed a major plank in its policy platform in its 2015 election campaign and an important promise in its Speech from the Throne — and claims it must resolve these issues before it can proceed with legalization.
These so-called stumbling blocks were identified in the Liberal Party’s January 2013 discussion paper, “Legalization of Marijuana – Answering Questions and Developing a Framework” (https://bc.liberal.ca/files/2013/01/DRAFT-Marijuana-Policy-Paper-Jan-13.pdf), which also provided practical ways to overcome obstacles such as those related to international conventions to which Canada is signatory.
“I urge all Canadians with an interest in stopping the further criminalization of Canadians for using cannabis – and particularly those in the Senate who will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this topic — to read the Liberal Party’s policy paper on legalizing marijuana,” Dr. Jones said. “It answers most, if not all, the questions that have been raised about how best to proceed. Once it stops needlessly criminalizing Canadians, the Government can then take the time it needs to work out the details and enact legislation.”
“Why not take the millions of dollars it takes to investigate, prosecute and incarcerate people for a crime no one thinks should exist and invest that money on government programs and services that actually help people?”
This is at least the third time that a political party/government has promised to stop criminalizing Canadians for cannabis use (1979 Progressive Conservative Party election platform; the Liberal Government Throne Speech; the 2015 Liberal Party election platform / 2015 Liberal Government Throne Speech), according to Dr. Jones.
“What Canadians need is for the government to declare an immediate moratorium and get on with it,” Dr. Jones said. “What we don’t need is more study leading to a concept for a proposal for a framework for a green paper leading to a white paper leading to …”
Dr. Jones will be attending the Senate Open Caucus on Marijuana Legalization on Wednesday 24 February and will be available for interviews following the meeting.
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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
December 20, 2015
James Wood – Calgary Herald
Premier Rachel Notley says she has mixed feelings about the Trudeau government’s pledge to legalize marijuana even as a federal Liberal cabinet minister says action is coming soon on the campaign promise.
Rachel Notley is a intelligent woman but her politician part is still fearful of publicly supporting drug policy reforms. That being said I was not surprised politician Kent Hehr being a intelligent man is comfortable with following what the history, evidence and science have very clearly shown. All history of failed criminalize and punishment drug prohibition policies (1923 for cannabis) and then increasing to a drug war with zero tolerance and mandatory minimum prison sentences drug policies has clearly shown it has only created vastly more harms to our communities and our families then all illegal drugs.
Legalizing cannabis will not only greatly reduce harm to all our families and communities but will allow for a much safer way to actually control with regulations. Continuing to allow the controlled by the most violent criminal prohibition type policies will continue to fail miserably as history has shown us. Legalize and regulate policies will not only free up expensive police resources it will make our communities safer. Add the savings in justice system costs. The savings could be used for a huge boost of funds for education, health care and other social services. Some of the costs saved could even reduce the heavy burden of taxes we all are force to pay. Which has been used to help fund the Stephen Harper type reefer madness insanity. Educate with scientific evidence only is the really responsible thing to do.
August 12, 2015 International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. Scientists speak out against false cannabis claims and Using Evidence to Talk About Cannabis.
Leading international scientific body reviews thirteen oft-repeated claims on cannabis use and regulation, finds that none are strongly supported by scientific evidence
October 2014 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released yet a another evidence based study called Cannabis Framework Policy. The CAMH study like so many other past evidence based drug policy studies conclusions lead to prohibition of cannabis is a seriously flawed drug control policy.
September 2002 Senate Report on Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy. Page 617. A Regulatory Approach to Cannabis
“We believe, however, that the continued prohibition of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians much more than the regulated marketing of the substance. In addition, we believe that the continued criminalization of cannabis undermines the fundamental values set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and borne out by the history of a country based on diversity and tolerance.
Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ)
Interview with Dr. Sheryl Spithoff, addiction medicine specialist and family physician at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. In a CMAJ analysis article, Dr. Spithoff and colleagues look at policies in jurisdictions where cannabis has already been legalized. A Canadian government formed after October 2015 may move away from prohibitionist policies and create a legal framework for cannabis. If so, public health promotion and protection must be the primary goals.
Full article (subscription required): www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.150657
CTVNEWS.CA – Fact check: Harper’s statements on illegal drugs
Today decriminalize is nothing more then a net widening effect for the police. The decriminalize option might have been better received in 1972 when the Le Dain Commission Report was released in 1972.
Since 1972 there has been a larger number of real evidence based drug policy studies found prohibition type drug policies have failed miserable and to end prohibition drug polices which will reduce the harms created by decades of failed prohibition based drug policies.
September 2002 Senate Report on Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy http://norml.ca/senate-report/ and more recently in October 2014 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released yet a another evidence based study called Cannabis Framework Policy. http://camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/influencing_public_policy/Documents/CAMHCannabisPolicyFramework.pdf
The CAMH study like so many other past evidence based drug policy studies(1) conclusions lead to prohibition of cannabis is a seriously flawed drug control policy. Legalizing cannabis will not only greatly reduce harm to our families and communities but will allow for a much safer way to actually have some control with regulations.
No need to reinvent the wheel either. Copy the beer and wine regulations. Selling on a commercial level the products provided are regulated the same as beer and wine are now. The regulations allow people to produce their own beer and wine while also providing for private for profit businesses to sell regulated products produced in a regulated commercial facility.
Advertising in the media shouldn’t be allowed. Stop allowing alcohol advertising would also help reduce the harm caused from irresponsible use of alcohol products.
Hyper over regulation and or taxation is not the answer either if we really want to gain more control. Avoiding over regulation and or taxation will help reduce the violent criminal gangs current complete control of the cannabis market.
Educate with only evidence based facts starting with cannabis is a safer recreational drug then alcohol, coffee and many other currently legal substances.
Then use the huge amount of law enforcement resources that would become available to be more proactive in stopping crimes then just reactive after people have become victims of harm from another. Colorado has shown huge increase of tax revenue, a reduction in crime and law enforcement costs.
Canadian Drug Policy Coalition Getting To Tomorrow: A Report on Canadian Drug Policy – 2013 http://drugpolicy.ca/progress/getting-to-tomorrow/
The report of the RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy. Final report: Drugs facing facts – March 2007
Canadian Public Health Association 2007 Resolutions
The Fraser Institute – Vancouver B.C. Marijuana Growth in British Columbia – May 2004
Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs – 2002
The Le Dain Commission Report 1972
Nixon’s Shaffer Commission report March 1970
The La Guardia Committee Report – 1944
Marijuana should be legalized with strict controls to curb its use and social harms, the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says.
CBC News October 9, 2014
The Inside Agenda Blog
CAMH Backs Legalized Marijuana
Sandra Gionas, October 9, 2014
In a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada R. v. Smith decision released Thursday, June 11, 2015. The current rules prevent people with a legitimate need for medical marijuana from choosing a method of ingestion that avoids the potential harms of smoking it.
OUR POSITION FOR A CANADIAN PUBLIC POLICY
REPORT OF THE SENATE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ILLEGAL DRUGS
Chairman: Pierre Claude Nolin
Deputy Chairman: Colin Kenny
Quotes from the 2002 Canadian Senate report
“Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy”
On Users and Uses:
• Close to 30% of the population has used cannabis at least once.
• Cannabis itself is not a cause of other drug use.
• Cannabis use can be a gateway because it is illegal, which puts users in contact with other substances.
• Cannabis itself is not a cause of delinquency and crime.
• Cannabis is not a cause of violence.
On Effects and Consequences:
• The Committee concludes that the state of knowledge supports the belief that, for the vast majority of recreational users, cannabis use presents no harmful consequences for physical, psychological or social well- being in either the short or the long term.
On the Historical Context of Prohibition:
• Early legislation was largely based on a moral panic, racist sentiment and a notorious absence of debate.
• When cannabis was included in the international conventions in 1925, there was no knowledge of its effects.
• The international classifications of drugs are arbitrary and do not reflect the level of danger those substances represent to health or to society.
• Canada should inform the international community of the conclusions of our report and officially request the declassification of cannabis and its derivatives.
On Medical Marijuana and the Federal Government:
• The MMAR (Medical Marijuana Access Regulations) are not providing a compassionate framework for access to marijuana for therapeutic purposes and are unduly restricting the availability of marijuana to patients who may receive health benefits from its use.
On Police Practices:
• Annual costs for drug enforcement in Canada can be estimated at between $700 million and $1 billion.
• Cannabis was involved in 70% of the approximately 50,000 charges in 1999. In 43% of cases (21,381), the charge was for possession of cannabis.
• The uneven application of the law is of great concern and may lead to discriminatory enforcement, alienation of certain groups within society, and creation of an atmosphere of disrespect for the law; in general, it raises the issue of fairness and justice.
• Prevention strategies in schools should not be led by police services or delivered by police officers.
• The RCMP should reconsider its choice of the DARE program.
• Harm reduction strategies related to cannabis should be developed in coordination with educators and the social services sector.
• Physical dependency on cannabis is virtually non-existent.
• Psychological dependency is moderate and is certainly lower than that for nicotine or alcohol.
• Most regular users of cannabis are able to diverge from a trajectory of dependency without requiring treatment.
• As a rule, treatment is more effective and less costly than a prison sentence.
On Current Practices:
• We estimate the cost of enforcing the drug laws to be closer to $1-1.5 billion per annum.
• The principal public policy cost relative to cannabis is law enforcement and the justice system; we estimate this to represent a total of $300-$500 million per annum.
• The costs of externalities attributable to cannabis are probably minimal (no deaths, few hospitalizations, and very little loss of productivity).
• The costs of public policy on cannabis are disproportionately high given the drug’s social and health consequences.