Terms of reference for the Expert Panel: Cannabis Act legislative review

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Context

With the coming into force of the Cannabis Act on October 17, 2018, a modern cannabis control framework was put in place to strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis in Canada. Designed with the intent of protecting public health and public safety, and preventing young people from accessing cannabis, the Cannabis Act provides the foundation for a public health approach by regulating the production, distribution, and sale of cannabis, and by establishing a strong control framework to better protect Canadians and minimize the harms associated with cannabis use.

Section 151.1 of the Cannabis Act mandates a review of the Act and its implementation three years following its coming into force to assess progress towards achieving the goals of the Act, and to help ensure that the legislative framework is meeting the needs and expectations of Canadians. To fulfill the requirements outlined in section 151.1, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, have announced an independent Expert Panel to lead the review of the Cannabis Act.

1.0 Mandate

The Cannabis Act (section 151.1) requires that the Minister of Health cause a review of the Act and its administration and operation three years after coming into force, and that a report on the review, including any findings or recommendations resulting from the review, be tabled in both Houses of Parliament within 18 months. Pursuant to the Act, this review is required to address the Act's administration and operations, including the impact of the Act on public health and, in particular, on the health and consumption habits of young persons in respect of cannabis use, the impact of cannabis on Indigenous persons and communities, and the impact of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house.

To fulfill the requirements set out on section 151.1 of the Act, and in accordance with Health Canada's Policy on External Advisory Bodies, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions are appointing an independent Expert Panel to lead a review of the Cannabis Act. The Panel will have a mandate to:

The Panel will carry out its mandate in a manner that respects the principles of impartiality, transparency, diversity and inclusion, and appropriate stewardship of public resources.

2.0 Scope of work

The Expert Panel will undertake a factual, evidence-informed inquiry and assessment of the Act's performance, relative to its purposes. Stemming from its findings, the Panel will identify priority areas for action, aimed at improving the functioning of the Act. The Panel will focus on the following key areas:

The Panel will apply a Sex and Gender-based Analysis Plus (SGBA+) lens in its review of the Cannabis Act by taking steps to systematically integrate sex, gender, and intersectional considerations in its work.

The Panel will adopt a distinctions-based approach and will seek to facilitate effective and meaningful participation of Indigenous peoples and communities as it undertakes its work. The review will be conducted in a manner that seeks to advance progress towards the broader goals of reconciliation.

The cannabis legislative framework engages the mandates of various federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Justice, Public Safety Canada, the Department of Finance, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Some stakeholders may wish to provide feedback related to the government's key priorities of strengthening economic growth, inclusiveness and fighting climate change. Relevant feedback will be shared with the appropriate departments.

3.0 The review process

The Panel will adopt a phased approach in carrying out its review of the Cannabis Act. During the first phase of its work, the Panel will focus on undertaking a factual assessment of the Act's performance and impacts to date through issues identification, evidence gathering and analysis, engagement with First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis Peoples to determine areas of focus to guide the review, and stakeholder engagement.

Based on the findings of phase one, the second phase of the Panel's work will focus on providing advice on areas of the legislative framework or its implementation to prioritize for improvement or reform. The Act requires the Minister of Health to conduct a review of the legislation, its administration and operation three years after coming into force, and for the Minister to table a report on this review in both Houses of Parliament 18 months after the review begins.

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