Anne McLellan Shares Thoughts on Country’s Legalization Agenda

Early this week, WeedMD’s Michael Kraft met The Hon. A. Anne McLellan, the former cabinet minister tapped to head the federal task force on how to legalize cannabis.  McLellan, who served most recently as Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, spoke at a Bennett Jones event in Toronto and shared some of her thoughts on the country’s legalization agenda.

Implementation Expected Sooner Rather Than Later

One of the more surprising takeaways from McLellan’s speech was the expectation that legislation would be implemented sooner, rather than later.  Perhaps a 4/20 announcement is in the works?  This announcement was followed by the assertion that the government wants legalization/adult use implemented “no later than 6 months before the next election” and that there is a “pressure and desire to do this as quickly as possible.”

“We are at the beginning of a whole new experiment” – Anne McLellan

According to McLellan, “regulation is the hard part, not the legislation.”  This is a particularly interesting point as it highlights the fact that people are so focused on when legislation is coming, that they lose sight of the regulations that will inevitably follow.  There regulations must be drafted and approved on both the federal and provincial level.

Given how important the mandate is, McLellan anticipates that a normal timeframe for implementation would be 18-24 months.  She went on to suggest that some provinces have indicated that it could take an additional 18-24 months, and that Ontario is currently the most advanced.  For anyone concerned about what’s happening south of the border, reassurances were given that while there may be some concerns with what the feds will do, it should not impact Canadian goals of legalization and regulation.

Some Issues Remain Unclear

Rules pertaining to advertising restrictions remain unclear.  McLellan reiterated Task Force recommendations with regards to plain packaging, yet went on to say that in-store advertising was permissible.  Unsurprisingly, Licensed Producers will be the legal suppliers in a recreational market.  And yet, McLellan did mention supporting a craft market with potentially more lax regulations for smaller grows. This suggests that there will be room for smaller manufactures/processors (perhaps under a separate licensing regime).

Also unsurprising was the claim that provinces want the federal government to handle production regulation, but want to want to take the reigns when it comes to distribution and retail.  The most contentious issue revolves around driving under the influence, which is something that McLellan anticipates being the single largest hurdle for legalization. This topic was the subject of a recent stud which suggests that oral measurement of THC intoxication level is not feasible.



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