Today the federal government released Bill C-45, the draft
Cannabis Act. If enacted, this will make Canada the first
G7 country to legalize recreational cannabis. Cannabis will remain
illegal as the bill moves through the legislative process. If it is
approved by Parliament, the bill could become law with a target
date of no later than July 2018, according to the Government of Canada.
As reported in our December 13, 2016
blog post, this bill comes following a consultation process
that engaged more than 30,000 Canadians and the issuance of the
comprehensive Task Force report on cannabis legalization and
The draft Cannabis Act sets out the federal regulatory
framework for legalization of cannabis for non-medical purposes;
however, many aspects of the Canadian framework remain unanswered.
The proposed Cannabis Act provides significant discretion
to the provinces and reserves significant discretion to be
introduced through yet-to-be released regulations.
Here are some key highlights of what the Cannabis Act
– The ACMPR regulation of cannabis for medical purposes will
continue in effect, but will be subject to future review, as per
the Task Force recommendations. The Cannabis Act proposes
federal licensing powers for the production, sale, testing,
packaging, labelling, sending, delivery, transportation, sale,
possession and disposal of cannabis for non-medical purposes. It
also proposes the establishment of security requirements, product
standards, inspections and recall powers, among others. It is
expected that details of this licensing structure will be set out
in the yet-to-be released regulations.
Discretion – The proposed regime would defer
significant powers to the provinces. This includes powers to
authorize the distribution, sale and retailing of cannabis and
cannabis products, establishing the minimum age for purchase and
possession (the Cannabis Act proposes a minimum age of 18
years), restrictions on where adults can consume cannabis, lowering
of the personal possession limit within their jurisdiction, and the
creation of additional rules for growing cannabis at home.
Products – The
proposed legislation would prohibit products combining cannabis and
either caffeine, ethyl alcohol or nicotine. It appears that various
forms of cannabis products would be permitted, including edible
products, resins, and concentrates, but this may also be subject to
yet-to-be released regulations.
Labelling – Under the proposed legislation, product
packaging and labelling will be permitted to provide factual and
accurate information. Misleading claims, any text or images
appealing to children, self-service displays, and vending machines
will be prohibited. Packaging requirements will also be subject to
additional restrictions in the yet-to-be released regulations.
Criminal Law Changes
– Various amendments are proposed to the Criminal
Code including decriminalizing the possession of fewer than 30
grams of cannabis. Significant amendments relating to impaired
driving, police powers and road-side oral fluid testing are also
proposed. Bill C-46 was also released by the federal
government today in connection with the draft Cannabis
Act, where certain proposed amendments of the Criminal
Code can be found.
A copy of the proposed Cannabis Act can be found here.
This article was written with the helpful contribution of
Michael Garbuz (Articling Student).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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