Amending the Cannabis Act? The Canadian government says they will review and amend it as soon as possible. But the deadline to begin the review is eight months passed. Scheduled for October 2021, Health Canada won’t comment on when the review will occur, only that any amending will come from a “credible, evidence-driven process.”
Health Canada also said the review could take up to 18 months. The latest federal budget promised a cannabis industry roundtable, but no details have been released. However, some remain skeptical that meetings between government bureaucrats and industry insiders will do anything except help out the larger producers at the expense of the smaller craft companies.
Forward Regulatory Plan
But will a review and amendment of the Cannabis Act work out in everyone’s favour? So far, the federal government plans to update the Cannabis Act through some regulatory changes that Health Canada will be taking the lead on.
These regulatory changes include:
- Cutting back on regulatory paperwork “to simplify and reduce requirements related to record keeping, reporting and notifications, and to provide more flexibility in meeting certain requirements related to matters such as antimicrobial treatment.”
- Amending the regulations to “facilitate cannabis research for non-therapeutic purposes.”
- Increasing the possession limit for cannabis beverages (no indication of raising the THC limit or abandoning it altogether).
- Allowing the sale of certain health products containing cannabis without a prescription
- Amending Cannabis Act regulations to “restrict the production, sale, promotion, packaging, or labelling of inhaled cannabis extracts with certain flavors, other than the flavor of cannabis.”
Health Canada says these changes are unlikely to be ready until the end of the year.
Buying cannabis health products without a prescription is a step in the right direction. But the typical attitude of Health Canada bureaucrats is that public health and safety trump your personal autonomy. So the agency will now be targeting cannabis producers promoting terpene profiles that they’ve decided are not “flavors of cannabis.”
Why Bother Amending the Cannabis Act?
Why bother amending the Cannabis Act when the government should scrap it altogether? The entire Liberal Legalization scheme has insulted the Western legal tradition of free markets and the rule of law.
All they needed to do was remove cannabis from the Criminal Code. We already have laws on the books that facilitate peaceful associations. Tort and criminal law provide security, while contract, property, and commercial law facilitate cooperation and exchange. Politics doesn’t need to enter the picture. Politicians certainly don’t need to draft new legislation and create roles for their already inflated taxpayer-funded bureaucracy.
The three major hurdles for small craft producers are:
- Barriers to entry because of the high costs of bureaucracy
- Arbitrary rules on some products, such as THC limits on edibles and capsules
- How the LPs can tap equity markets and starve out their competition who are malnourished because,
- Excise taxes ensure Canada won’t ever have a middle-class of cannabis producers.
Will an industry roundtable consisting of large producers and government bureaucrats solve these issues? Or will they only address the excise tax since even the larger producers send half their revenue to Ottawa?
Time will tell, but LPs and bureaucrats seem to think the roundtable will be a cure-all.
I have my doubts. If you want some insight into what this “cannabis industry table” is going to be about, look at who supports it. If you want some insight into what amending the Cannabis Act will look like, take a gander at everything else this government has (or hasn’t) done.
A true, small L, classical liberal cannabis market won’t occur until Justin’s Liberals are out of power.