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Canada begins review of cannabis laws

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Canada on Thursday launched a long-awaited review of cannabis regulations, four years after it became the first major economy to legalize its recreational use.

A panel of experts led by Morris Rosenberg, who was the deputy justice secretary, is to measure the impact of legalization on youth, indigenous peoples and others, as well as on the economy and the illegal market that the new regime has sought to supplant.

The group will also examine the regulatory burden on the industry and determine whether a separate system for medical marijuana, legal since 2001, should be maintained to facilitate access for patients.

The mandatory review, delayed a year due to the pandemic, is expected to last 18 months.

The industry complains about what it calls excessively high taxes on marijuana, an overabundance of shops – licensed and unlicensed – and restrictions on advertising and marketing that make it difficult to compete with the black market.

At a press conference, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said preliminary data this year showed that 69% of the cannabis market had moved from illegal sources to legal and regulated suppliers.

The review, he said, will help the government “strengthen (cannabis) law to meet the needs of all Canadians while continuing to crowd out the illicit market.”

Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said: “We knew young people were at increased risk of harm from cannabis, such as mental health problems, including addiction and anxiety and depression-related disorders.”

Public awareness campaigns, he noted, had made “young people more aware of the dangers of cannabis use,” but their use did not decrease after legalization as expected, but remained relatively stable.

According to government data, 25% of the population, about 9.5 million Canadians, used cannabis in 2021, down slightly from the previous year.

They spent an average of 69 Canadian dollars (51 US dollars) on weed per month.

TYPE: AFP

source : diario las americas

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