Health Canada said on Tuesday that the current ongoing process to legalize marijuana nationwide must not be hindered as calls to delay the decision are made.
On May 1, members of the Senate’s Aboriginal peoples committee recommended that the Liberal government hold back on legalizing cannabis for up to a year in order to address its potential for harmful effects in Indigenous communities.
But Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on May 3 reiterated his full backing for the nationwide marijuana legalization this summer. He said: “Every single day, Canadians are hurt and harmed by the current approach to marijuana.”
Like Trudeau, Health Canada said “the current system is not working,” citing a similar reason to that of the premier’s Liberal-led government.
“Canada has some of the highest rates of youth use of cannabis, the illegal market is thriving and Canadians continue to be subject to criminal prosecution for possession of small amounts of cannabis,” said Health Canada in a statement to CBC News.
“Delaying the legalization and regulation of cannabis would not change this.”
Health Canada met with First Nations
So far, Health Canada says federal representatives have been to “at least 50 meetings with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis across Canada, with leaders, Elders, service providers and other experts from across sectors” in the past few months.
The federal agency also says that it is working to make things easier for Indigenous groups that want to grow medical cannabis.
“Upon application, a licensing professional reaches out to self-identified Indigenous applicants, and offers to provide assistance and answer questions regarding the application process,” said Health Canada.
“Currently, there are four licensed producers as well as 14 applications that have identified affiliations, including financial or other partnerships with Indigenous communities or organizations.”