Freedom of expression litigation and the harms of cannabis

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Melanie L. McPhail
Jacob J. Shelley



In April 2016, the Canadian federal government announced its intention to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis. Minister of Health Jane Philpott indicated that legalizing recreational cannabis would “keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals.”1 In April 2017, the government released the proposed legislation, to come into effect no later than July 2018, legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults in Canada.2 The Cannabis Act, Bill C-45, was to operate concurrently with the medical cannabis regulations, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.3 Since the initial announcement in April 2016, academics, politicians, scientists, doctors, and citizens have been clamouring for answers to a seemingly endless list of questions. What age should the minimum age of purchase be set at? Who should be able to sell cannabis? Will using cannabis legally in Canada exclude me from travelling to the United States? How will legalization impact rates of cannabis use among youth? Are health care professionals trained to inform patients about cannabis use?