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October 16, 2023
The legislative review of the Cannabis Act is a crucial opportunity to move toward cannabis policies that advance racial justice and social equity.
Five years after legalization, the landscape of cannabis equity in Canada remains unchanged. Those who are socially marginalized continue to be excluded from the cannabis industry and governments have done little to repair the harms of prohibition.
Black and Indigenous people, overrepresented in possession arrests in Canada, are absent from leadership positions within the industry. This exclusion of communities that have been historically over-criminalized, and the lack of measures to repair past harms, compounds the injustice and falls far short of achieving equity in our approach to legalization.
The Cannabis Act’s legislated review, a requirement for the federal health minister to initiate a review of the adult-use legalization law three years after its 2018 passage and implementation, presents an opportunity to rectify the inequities of Canada’s cannabis policy. This is the chance to forge a new direction. Since its launch a year ago (delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic), the government has made several statements broadening its focus on the lack of participation by Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities in the industry.