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Despite Cannabis Legalization, Illegal Marijuana Dealers Continue to Pose a Public Health Risk, Health Panel Warns

Despite the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, illegal marijuana dealers continue to pose a threat to public safety, according to a Department of Health panel that addressed Parliament this week.

The expert panel, as reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, highlighted ongoing criminal activity surrounding the illicit sales of marijuana, despite a significant decrease in marijuana possession charges from 2017 to 2022.

The panel’s legislative review of the 2018 Cannabis Act emphasized the need to address organized criminal networks using marijuana sales to fund more serious crimes like trafficking firearms.

Statistics Canada reported an increase in gun-related crime, particularly in Ontario, and highlighted concerns about rising gun violence in Toronto.

The panel also pointed out the prevalence of illegal storefronts on First Nations reserves and unauthorized online retailers as ongoing issues, urging law enforcement to focus on addressing illicit sales within Canada.

Canadian marijuana businesses have faced financial challenges, with several declaring bankruptcy due to government regulations and taxes, leading to layoffs and corporate growth issues.

Health Canada is considering feedback from the industry to potentially relax regulations and make them more efficient in response to the challenges faced by marijuana businesses.

Price, consumer motivations, and health risks of illegal products were also highlighted in the panel’s recommendations to address the use of illegal sources and encourage legal consumption.

The panel’s reports and surveys have shown a significant increase in cannabis use among young adults and adults since legalization, raising concerns about accessibility and health impacts on children.

Research also indicates a rise in the use of other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine in Canadian cities, alongside the growing use of cannabis.

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