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Federal task force on cannabis legalization releases its report

The federal government’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation released its recommendations today. The committee’s membership includes BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

Their report contains 80 recommendations regarding the legal framework that will make cannabis legal across the country next year.

The task force suggests a minimum age of 18 for the legal purchase of cannabis. The Canadian Medical Association has recommended a minimum age of 21, with restrictions on the amount and potency available to anyone under the age of 25.

A personal possession limit of 30 grams has also been recommended, as well as a non-commercial cultivation limit of four plants under 100 cm per household.

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The task force has also made recommendations regarding the sale of legal cannabis. According to their report, advertising of cannabis products should be restricted, similar to current restrictions around advertising tobacco and alcohol. The task force recommends against the sale of cannabis at outlets that sell tobacco or alcohol and suggests that provinces and municipalities should have leeway to put their own legal frameworks in place.

It also suggests directing tax revenues from the sale of cannabis toward public education campaigns and instituting penalties for illegal cultivation and production as well as dangerous production practices.

“This is a comprehensive report, and the framework it outlines for legalizing cannabis in Canada will have many ramifications for B.C,” Mike Morris, BC’s Public Safety Minister, said in a statement.  “We will take time to thoroughly review it and the 80 recommendations within it. First and foremost, we will approach our review with a public health and safety lens.”

Morris says the report makes it clear that the task force has considered the province’s concerns regarding the legalization of cannabis, including its use by youth and the possibility of impaired driving.

The BC Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) calls the report “a welcome step” and is especially please with the suggestion that provinces and municipalities be given some autonomy regarding their cannabis laws.

“We believe the most cost efficient and responsible way to proceed is to utilize our current retail and distribution centre network,” BCGEU president Stephanie Smith says in a statement. ”

However, both the BCGEU and the BC Private Liquor Store Association have expressed concern over the task force’s recommendation against the sale of cannabis in liquor stores. They say liquor store employees are already trained in the sale of controlled substances, making them well-positioned to sell legal cannabis.

You can read the full report here.

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