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Canada Establishes Expert Panel To Review Cannabis Act

Canada Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos appointed the panel members. “The Expert Panel will provide us with an independent, inclusive and evidence-informed review of the Cannabis Act and its economic, social, and environmental impacts, as well as the progress that’s been made displacing the illicit cannabis market,” Duclos said. “We welcome the Expert Panel members and look forward to reviewing their findings to help address the ongoing and emerging needs of Canadians while protecting their health and safety.”

There are a total of five members of the panel who will begin work on the report, with a goal to “engage with the public, governments, Indigenous peoples, youth, marginalized and racialized communities, cannabis industry representatives, and people who access cannabis for medical purposes” regarding the current successes and failures of the current law.

The first panel member is Dr. Oyedeji Ayonrinde, Associate Professor at Queen’s University and consultant psychiatrist and clinical director at Providence Care, which provides mental health care. In the realm of cannabis, Ayonrinde’s peer-reviewed publications explore “gestational cannabis use, cannabis and psychosis, and safety issues with cannabinoid-based medicines.”

Second is Dr. Patricia J. Conrod. She’s a full professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Addiction, University of Montreal and a researcher at Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Centre. Conrod co-leads multiple research efforts, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Canadian Cannabis and Psychosis Research Team.

Lynda L., Lynda L. (third), is a criminal lawyer who is also a member the Fisher River Cree Nation of Manitoba. Since 2015, Levesque serves the Calgary and Toronto communities. “Throughout her legal career, she has maintained a passion for Indigenous justice issues and an interest in better ensuring access to justice for marginalized persons,” the government describes.

Peter Selby is the fourth Vice-Chair of Research and Head of Mental Health and Addictions Division, Department of Family and Community Medicine. Selby’s research often focuses on understanding and treating addictive behaviors, which has led him to receive over $100 million in grants from numerous institutes. He has received more than 145 principal or co-principal investigator grants and participated in 150 peer-reviewed publications.

The panel’s chair will be Morris Rosenberg. He is a former lawyer, ex-Deputy of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Minister for Health. “It’s my great pleasure to begin working with the members of the Expert Panel. Each member brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, which will be essential as we conduct a thorough, independent review of the Cannabis Act,” Rosenberg said in a press release.

Cannabis sales in Canada began officially in 2018 and the Cannabis Act was in effect since then. It requires that government produce a report that includes recommendations to make changes. The panel is now selected and the first phase of the report will begin. The first phase will see the panel assess the impact of the Cannabis Act by engaging with the public online and then analyze the evidence to identify trends. In the second phase, advice will be provided to enhance or reform this legislative system. Although the deadline for this report is not set yet, once it has been completed it will be submitted to Parliament of Canada.

Carolyn Bennett, Associate Minister of Health and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said that the panel will provide necessary information to help develop Canada as one of only a handful of countries to legalize adult-use cannabis. “The Cannabis Act has been instrumental in our efforts to protect youth from accessing cannabis, displacing the illegal market, and providing adult consumers with access to a safe supply of cannabis, but there’s more work to do,” Bennett said in a statement. “We congratulate the new members of the Expert Panel, and look forward to their work assessing our progress in meeting the goals of the Act and guiding our next steps.”