Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

A Roadmap for Cannabis Equity in Canada to Inform the Legislated Review of the Cannabis Act by the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation

Werb, D., Owusu-Bempah, A., Maghsoudi, N.

The introduction of a legal regulatory framework for adult cannabis use in Canada represents a significant departure from a century of cannabis prohibition. In comparison to many jurisdictions in the United States, however, Canadian legalization efforts have done little to explicitly address the harms caused by drug prohibition and to foster equity in the legal cannabis industry. In this report, the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation aims to chart a path forward for cannabis equity in Canada to inform the legislative review of the Cannabis Act and the ongoing development of cannabis law and policy. It begins by discussing the state of cannabis equity in Canada, then explores how cannabis equity has been pursued elsewhere, before offering recommendations for how cannabis equity could be pursued in Canada. For this report, “cannabis equity” is defined as:

  1. Inclusion of people from underrepresented racial groups and genders – with a focus on people adversely affected by cannabis prohibition – in the employment and economic opportunities emerging from the legal cannabis industry,
  2. Amnesty for people with previous cannabis convictions, and
  3. Reinvestment of cannabis taxes into equity programs.

Findings and recommendations in this report can equip policymakers with the knowledge necessary for redressing harms associated with the history of cannabis prohibition, avoiding the replication of historical disparities in the legal cannabis industry, and foregrounding equity as an essential component of cannabis policy in Canada.

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