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Four issues to be resolved in cannabis legalization

0 20 27
12.07.2018

It’s now official: as of October 17, 2018, Canada will become the first G7 nation to legalize both medical and adult-use recreational cannabis. It’s a historic, disruptive and uncertain moment.

The Guardian newspaper recently pointed out that “all eyes” are now on Canada. Those eyes are watching to see how this public policy will be deployed and what the ripple effects will be on crime, health, consumer spending, public safety, job creation and more.

How legalization will roll out in Canada in the next 18 months will also have a significant impact on the rate and number of other countries following suit. The shift will have a series of implications, including decreasing prescription opioid use and helping end the disproportionate impact that criminalizing cannabis has on low-income communities and communities of colour. Furthermore, Canada’s bold cannabis policy has become linked to our global credibility, particularly as it relates to successfully undertaking significant policy shifts.

To increase the likelihood that legalizing cannabis will be successful, policy-makers, the cannabis industry and all those invested in the outcome of this legislation must come together to drive forward four urgent public conversations and changes. Support for legalization is fragile, and if public opinion turns sour, the political response is likely to be swift and damagingly prohibitive.

Here’s what we need to do to prevent a negative outcome.

Manage industry and public expectations

At the recent World Cannabis Congress, Anne McLellan, chair of Canada’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, did an excellent job of managing expectations around the initial months after legalization. “This is transformative public policy. This is not going to be perfect in the first year or the first few years,” she told her audience. She stressed that lawmakers need to be adaptable and flexible regarding these new laws — traits that are uncommon in government and therefore require deliberate and proactive preparations.

She highlighted that, despite due diligence and widespread consultation within Canada and in other jurisdictions where cannabis is already legalized (including Colorado and Uruguay), the expectation should be that in whatever form the laws are finalized, they will need to evolve. “For the first decade that legalization is in place, we are all going to be learning and adapting…There will be........

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