Canada’s approach to cannabis regulation has some people worrying. The federal government’s resources for guidance in developing the existing regulations including those regarding control by the federal and provincial governments, may not have been the best.
The federal government looked to tobacco and alcohol for guidance in drafting the cannabis regulations. The problem is that the regulations applicable to each of tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis have their respective distinct focus and goal. Tobacco’s primary focus is “reducing use with eventual elimination” while alcohol promotes the “socially responsible use” mirrored by the existing cannabis regulations.
Tobacco regulations address the marketing, displaying and packaging of tobacco, including:
- All forms of marketing are banned
- Packages have graphic health warnings
- Eventual possibility of plain packaging
- Market to the public
- Have fewer restrictions
- Is viewed in a more positive light than tobacco
There is a strong correlation between the nature and extent of regulation and enforcement, and the effectiveness of limiting the exposure and use of the controlled substance to and by Canada’s youth. Tobacco use has declined significantly from 33% of the population in 1980 to 15% in 2013, and the industry believes it will drop to 5% by 2035.
Alcohol, on the other hand, has had a different impact on Canadians. Alcohol companies have been given such relaxed regulations that Canada has one of the highest rates of binge drinking in the developed world. In addition, the existing legislation is outdated to the point that it only places controls over what can be promoted on TV and on the radio. There are no provisions for the advertisement of alcohol via newer technologies and advancements such as the Internet, where most of the promotion and information on alcohol is available. Some suggest that the loopholes available as a result of the outdated regulations have significantly influenced underage drinking, and the same may be true for cannabis use.
The proposed cannabis regulations in the Cannabis Act pull components from both tobacco and alcohol regulations, with a bias towards those applicable to alcohol. For instance, the Cannabis Act prohibits “promotion, packaging, and labeling of cannabis that could be appealing to young persons.” This wording alone may not be sufficient to stop enticing cannabis use by today’s youth. Without enforcement of restrictive regulations, how will its use be controlled?
Enforcement remains an issue under debate. Provinces have the ability to provide their input to the federal government, but as not all have done so, it might be left to the federal government to decide.
For more information on the Cannabis Act and how our Cannabis Law Group can help you, please contact one of our Cannabis Law lawyers today or call our office directly at (416) 449-1400.