According to Reuters, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) on Thursday made several recommendations that address issues affecting the Canadian province’s booming marijuana industry, including having a common excise stamp to help cannabis makers ship their products smoothly.
The industry body also recommended bolstering Health Canada, the country’s health regulator, so that it can issue licenses to facilities at an “accelerated rate” without compromising the inspection process.
Ontario is home to more than half the licensed producers of recreational cannabis in Canada and a majority of employment, said Michelle Eaton, vice president of communications and government relations of the OCC.
Last year, Canada became one of the first major economies to legalize recreational marijuana, a move that has led to the creation of a multi-billion dollar industry. In its report on Thursday, the industry body backed a merit-based licensing system and allowing consumers to buy directly online from licensed producers.
Later this year, Canada will allow sales of new classes of cannabis products, namely edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals, and the OCC believes the government needs to strike a balance between prioritizing public safety and eradicating the illegal market.
The body also recommended working with Ontario’s higher education institutions to highlight employment opportunities related to the sector.
Canada’s parliament approved Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, in June. It created an overarching national regulatory framework and enables each province to establish its own system of licensing and regulating marijuana businesses. Adults are allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana, which they can purchase online or through a brick-and-mortar storefront.
Canada is one of only two countries to legalize marijuana for adults at the national level. The first was Uruguay, where legislation was signed into law in December 2013 and a limited number of pharmacies began selling marijuana to adults in July 2017. Nine U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and one U.S. territory, the Northern Mariana Islands, have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. Eight of those states and the Northern Marianas have also established systems for regulating commercial cultivation and sales.
“Canada is setting a strong example for how to end marijuana prohibition at the national level and replace it with a system of regulated production and sales that is largely governed at the local level” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, following Canada’s passage of the law. “The U.S. and other countries grappling with the complexities of such a significant policy shift will have an excellent opportunity to learn from the Canadian experience.”
Hawkins continues; “The Canadian model is rather similar to what many envision for the U.S., and in many ways it mirrors what is happening here, as states have taken the lead in regulating commercial cannabis activity. The big difference—and it is a critical difference—is the blessing provincial governments have received from their federal government. It is time for Congress to step up and take similar action to harmonize our nation’s state and federal marijuana policies.
“As just the second country and the first G7 nation to end marijuana prohibition, Canada has positioned itself as a global leader for cannabis business and development. As the U.S. continues to face federal road blocks to cannabis-related medical research, Canada could very well become the world leader in discovering new cannabis-based medicines. The country has already begun to experience some of the economic benefits that come with being one of the first nations to establish a legal marijuana market for adult use. It won’t be long before it begins to see the public health and safety benefits that stem from replacing an illegal market with a regulated one. Canada is going to generate significant revenue, create all sorts of jobs and business opportunities, and become the world leader for cannabis-related research and development. Hopefully Congress will take notice quickly and that competitive American spirit will kick in sooner rather than later.”