In June 2016, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Minister of Health created a nine-member task force to undertake consultation on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. Late last year, the Task Force released their final report following 5 months of consultations with Canadians, various levels of government, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, youth, patients and experts in relevant fields. The report documents various arguments that were brought up by the parties involved in the consultation around issues such as harms of use, supply chain, public safety and protection, medical access, and implementation. The report also contains the Task Force’s recommendations to the Canadian Government based on these consultations, should the legalization of cannabis proceed.
This blog series is a summary of the Task Force’s recommendations on the regulation of cannabis to the Canadian Government. The full report from the Government of Canada can be found here.
Part 3: Recommendations for Enforcing Public Safety and Protection
In providing the following recommendations, the Task Force considered issues such as criminal and administrative sanctions, minimizing youth criminalisation, legal framework, and cannabis impairment, particularly in regards to impaired driving.
- Implement a set of clear, proportional and enforceable penalties that seek to limit criminal prosecution for less serious offences
- Maintain criminal offences for illegal production, trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking, possession for the purposes of export, and trafficking to youth
- Create exclusions for “social sharing”
- Implement administrative penalties for contraventions of production, distribution, and sale licensing rules
- Create distinct legislation containing all the provisions, regulations, sanctions and offences relating to cannabis
- Limit personal possession of non-medical dried cannabis in public to 30 grams with a corresponding sales limit for dried cannabis
- Develop equivalent possession and sales limits for non-dried forms of cannabis
Place of Use
- Extend the current restrictions on public smoking of tobacco products to the smoking and vaping of cannabis products
- Permit dedicated consumption areas such as cannabis lounges and tasting rooms with safeguards to prevent the co-use with alcohol, prevent underage use, and protect health and safety
- Develop a national, comprehensive public education strategy on cannabis impairment, with information on the dangers of cannabis-impaired driving (with special emphasis on youth), the applicable laws and the ability of law enforcement to detect cannabis use
- Invest in research to better link THC levels with impairment and crash risk to support the development of a per se limit
- Act on findings of the Drugs and Driving Committee and a committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science to determine whether to establish a per se limit as part of a comprehensive approach to cannabis-impaired driving
- Support the development of an appropriate roadside drug screening device for detecting THC levels
- Invest in law enforcement capacity, including Drug Recognition Experts and Standardized Field Sobriety Test training and staffing
- Invest in baseline data collection and ongoing surveillance and evaluation
The Task Force recommends that all levels of the Canadian Government implement graduated sanctions ranging from administrative sanctions to criminal prosecution, and graduated licensing with zero tolerance for young and new drivers.