In a private meeting yesterday in downtown Toronto, the Honourable Anne McLellan, Chair of the government’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, spoke with various stakeholders in legalization to provide updates on the process and timeline.
McLellan, who is also a Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP, an international law firm based in Canada, spoke at the Bennett Jones office in downtown Toronto, along with Hugo Alves, a Senior Partner at BJ. Bennett Jones also represents numerous businesses operating in Canada’s medical cannabis space.
Mclellan told attendees to expect legislation earlier than later, and that the government wants legalization in place “no later than six months before the next election”.
Key points from the meeting are below.
- Expect the legislation earlier rather than later. Spring window is April-June. McLellan was confident it would be on the early end of this window.
- Government wants legalization/adult-use running "no later than 6 months before the next election."
- "Regulation is the hard part, not the legislation."
- Normal track for all this could take 18-24 months.
- US does not impact what's happening in Canada (unless they wants to make problems). There are certainly some concerns with what the feds will do south of the border, but McLellan was quite clear that it should make no impact on our goal of legalizing and restricting access.
- Clarity on advertising restrictions. McLellan reiterated the Task Force’s recommendation of plain packaging, but then went on to say that in-store advertising is allowed.
- Licensed Producers will be the legal producers in a recreational market.
- Provinces want the Federal Government to handle production regulation. But they want to take the reigns around distribution and retail.
- Most contentious issue will be around driving under the influence. McLellan expects this to be the single largest hurdle for legalization. A recent study suggests "Oral measurement of THC intoxication level is not feasible."
"We are at the beginning of a whole new experiment" - Anne McLellan