US & Canada

Legal cannabis rules proposed by Canadian expert panel

a cannabis flag Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cannabis companies stocks jumped after the panel's report was released

Canada should permit the sale of recreational marijuana to people over age 18, and tax pot products based on potency, a government panel recommends.

The more than 80 recommendations come from an expert panel tasked by Ottawa with guiding the federal government as it moves towards legalising the drug.

The federal government is expected to introduce a measure to legalise pot.

If the law is passed, Canada will be the largest developed country to end recreational marijuana prohibition.

Uruguay is the only other country to have a fully regulated, legal market for recreational marijuana.

A number of US states, including Colorado and Washington, also have legal pot.

Task force chair Anne McLellan, a former deputy prime minister, said the panel learned a lot from consulting with representatives from those jurisdictions and feels the government "should proceed with caution".

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Image caption Flowering cannabis grows at a medical supply greenhouse in Ontario

"We've been told by those who've gone before to expect surprises," she said.

The non-binding report, made public on Tuesday, will serve as a blueprint for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government as it crafts the new laws to regulate the industry.

Mr Trudeau says his government will "legalise, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana" in order to reduce access of the drug to youth and to displace the illegal cannabis market.

Experts say the Trudeau administration could push to have the drug legalised by as early as spring of 2017.

Canadians, especially younger Canadians, are among the biggest consumers of marijuana in the world.

The more than 80 recommendations for the government include:

  • Adults be allowed to grow up to four plants and possess 30 grams of dried cannabis
  • Marijuana and alcohol not be sold in the same retail locations, clearing the way for alcohol-free cannabis lounges
  • Advertising, including sponsorship and endorsements, be restricted
  • Cannabis products be required to have plain packaging that includes levels of active ingredients
  • The government roll out a public health education campaign around the harms related to cannabis use, including impaired driving

Medical marijuana, grown by 36 federally licensed producers, is currently legal in Canada.

Stocks of Canadian marijuana companies surged in anticipation of the report.

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Image caption Canada's prime minister has promised to legalise the drug

The report recommends that the federal government continue to regulate production while the provinces oversee the distribution and retail sales.

Ms McLellan said that the industry should also be opened up to more than the currently licensed producers, including some of those who are now growing cannabis illegally.

"The government need to understand the value of a diverse market of growers of different sizes," she said.

She also said it is important the government create a flexible framework that lets it adapt prices, taxes, rules, and policy in the future.

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