• Niche Canada

The long road to legalization

The Cannabis Act, the Liberal government’s groundbreaking and historic piece of legislation to begin the long process of reversing cannabis prohibition, has now passed second reading in the House of Commons and will soon be considered by the Standing Committee on Health.

The Standing Committee on Health will examine the bill and hear from witnesses to help the committee members better analyze aspects of the legislation. While issues were broadly debated and discussed during the debate in the house, the standing committee is able to better dive into these issues in a manageable way, while weighing input from experts and stakeholders.

A lot of the issues debated during second reading had to do with age limits, access to youth, criminal charges (too little or too much, depending on the political party) and even the overall lack of approval for legalizing cannabis in Canada from some Ministers of Parliament. But another issue that will certainly be considered by the committee will be how this legislation will affect provinces, territories and municipalities. While there are a lot of knowns in terms of what jurisdictions have what responsibilities and authorities (provinces can manage distribution and retail sales, municipalities have basic zoning regulations that will manage where any possible retail locations can be, etc), the specifics of how things like tax revenue is distributed and how much authority provinces and territories will have to serve the interests of their own unique regions and cultures can begin to be addressed in this process.

Online sales are likely to be a solution provinces will be looking at to help with a rapid implementation while they sort out how and where to distribute and sell a product through traditional bricks and mortar. How tax revenue is distributed to help municipalities manage the on-the-ground management of this new system will be an important issue to many cities and towns and has been raised by several provincial municipal groups in the last year.

Issues like these, and many more, are why this process is long from over, and why this debate is important for all stakeholders to be involved in. If you’re a citizen with questions or concerns, or if you’re a politician or other stakeholder with questions, let us know how we can help. We know this will be a long road, and we’re glad we have time to make this work right. We're NICHE.