• Déclaration de notre PDG
  • Déclaration de notre PDG

Statement from our CEODaily news

Published 22 March 2024 by AQIC

My statement on the Legislative Review of the Cannabis Act - Final Report of the Expert Panel


General observations

Before appreciating the Expert Panel's report, it's worth recalling that Canada became the first major developed country to legalize and regulate cannabis in 2018. Our government's approach has been based on regulated and controlled access aimed at reducing risks and harms. So it's appropriate for us industry stakeholders to keep this in mind when judging the actions of our governments.

" In view of the wide-ranging impacts of the change from prohibition to legal, regulated access, Parliament established a requirement for the Act to be reviewed 3 years after its coming into force. This review included an assessment of the impact on:

  • impact of the Act on public health and, in particular, on the health and consumption habits of young persons with respect to cannabis use
  • impact of cannabis on Indigenous persons and communities
  • impact of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house

It is important to note that the Act did not provide for any consultation mechanism.

In this regard, I would like to thank the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, who listened to the arguments of many civil society players by broadening the scope of the review and carrying out extensive consultations. I would also like to pay tribute to the scope of the Expert Committee's work and its openness.

My first observation is the Expert Committee's lack of understanding of the terminology used in this report. Indeed, while the Act defines cannabis as a cannabis plant and anything referred to in Schedule 1. Excluded from this definition are the things listed in Schedule 2. (1. a sterile seed of a cannabis plant, 2. a mature stem without branches, leaves, flowers or seeds of such a plant, 3 fibers obtained from a stem referred to in section 2, 4 a root or any part of the root of such a plant.

Thus, there are no distinctions between the cannabis plant, the categories of cannabis products, or between intoxicating and non-intoxicating products. For example, a Canadian citizen using a CBD cream to treat inflammatory pain would statistically be considered a cannabis consumer. Similarly, this product will be regulated in the same way as a cannabis product containing intoxicating cannabinoids. This applies to both promotion and distribution.

This unwillingness to make a clear distinction between a plant and the product of a plant shows me that there is still a strong stigma and lack of understanding among our authorities. It also sends the signal that all "cannabis" is a harmful product, and hampers Canada's ability to take advantage of the full potential of cannabis, including the use of cannabinoids in the cosmetics and natural health products industries.


Like our governments, I want the principles of public health and public safety to prevail, but we still need to identify what really represents a risk.

Let me give you another example: "Children should never have access to cannabis, and these exposures should never occur. The committee should say, "Children should never have access to intoxicating cannabis products and these exposures should never occur."

Notwithstanding the above, I recognize the good faith of the members of the Expert Committee and their effort to understand.

I also welcome the Committee's main recommendation that the Government of Canada allocate sufficient funds and resources to ensure the effective implementation of the cannabis framework, including the capacity to address emerging public health and safety issues. The Quebec government should think long and hard about this recommendation!


Positive recommendations and observations for our industry

Medical access

  • Encourage additional research on the therapeutic use of cannabis in Canada;
  • Increase the knowledge and understanding of health care professionals;
  • Rapid advancement of a pathway for cannabis health products containing cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Finance Canada should review whether the excise tax should be applied to cannabis for medical purposes products;
  • Permit pharmacies to distribute cannabis products.

Economic, social and environmental impact

  • Ensure that federal licence holders and businesses, particularly small and equity-deserving businesses, are informed of existing programs (such as for grants and loans), incentives and supports that may assist them in establishing and running their businesses;
  • Provincial and territorial distributors should consider regularly reviewing their mark-ups,;
  • Allow cultivators, including micro-cultivators, to sell packaged and labelled dried or fresh cannabis directly to distributors;
  • Permit direct-to-consumer sales from smaller cultivators and processors
  • Examination of the excise tax model;
  • Regulatory streamlining to reduce the administrative burden on federal licence holders.

Criminal activity and dismantling the illicit market

  • Create authorities to compel Internet service providers to block illicit cannabis websites.

Research and monitoring

  • In addition to regular independent reviews of the Cannabis Act, Health Canada should conduct ongoing evaluation of the cannabis program, and implement any necessary changes.

Public health

  • Health Canada should ensure the cannabis industry is provided with clear guidance on the promotion restrictions and packaging and labelling requirements;
  • Allow some portion of a cannabis package to be transparent
  • Allow for the display of certain symbols that convey useful information to the consumer;
  • Allow the use of QR codes on product labels to convey factual information to consumers;
  • Distributors and retailers should stock cannabis products with diverse ranges of THC quantities or concentrations

As for the part concerning First Nations, Inuit and Métis, I'll refrain from commenting and leave it to the nations concerned to express their views.


In conclusion

Although I would have liked to see the Committee distinguish between the cannabis plant and the categories of cannabis products in its recommendations and observations, I understand that it is morally difficult to get past 100 years of prohibition and misinformation.

I believe this is a fair and balanced report in terms of recommendations on intoxicating cannabis products. The committee has demonstrated an understanding of the issues facing the various players in society when it comes to these products. The openness and collaboration of the Canadian government stand in stark contrast to the prohibitive dogmatism imposed by the Quebec government.

For two years now, the Quebec Hemp and Cannabis Industry Association (AQIC) has been waiting for a response from Quebec to set up a working group on cannabis (the plant).

Quebec cannot afford to be lagging behind the rest of Canada. The proposals tabled by the federal government represent an opportunity for Quebec to improve our cannabis framework.

It is imperative that our Premier and Minister of Health and Social Services accept the AQIC's legitimate request and open a dialogue with industry and stakeholders. Postpone the cannabis reference framework adopted by the Quebec government in 2019 and open the dialogue by setting up a cannabis advisory task force.

View full report

Pierre Leclerc

President and CEO

Quebec Hemp and Cannabis Industry Association (AQIC)