Federal Issues--December 2016

A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada

On November 30, the Federal Government releases A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada.

The report is the product of consultations with Canadians, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, youth, patients and experts in relevant fields.

Highlights of the report include:

Sales and marketing

  • Set the minimum age of purchase as 18, respecting the rights of provinces and territories to harmonize with sales of alcohol.
  • Avoid selling alcohol and cannabis at the same location where possible: dedicated storefronts and direct mail are preferable.
  • Limit the density and location of storefronts, including their proximity to schools and parks.
  • Regulate retail sales at the provincial and territorial level.
  • Restrict the promotion and advertising of cannabis products, similar to restrictions now in place for tobacco.
  • Require plain packaging with company name, strain name, price, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) amounts and health warnings.
  • Prohibit any product deemed "appealing to children," including products that look like candy.


Taxation

  • Establish pricing and taxation following an economic analysis.
  • Tax higher potency THC products at a higher rate to discourage purchase.
  • Use revenue from cannabis regulation for drug prevention, education and treatment.

Public Consumption and Possession

  • Extend restrictions on public smoking of tobacco products and vaping to cannabis.
  • Allow and regulate dedicated places to consume cannabis products (lounges, for example.)
  • Limit public possession to 30 grams of dried, non-medical cannabis or its equivalent, with a corresponding sales limit.

Production and Distribution

  • Implement a system of licensed producers to grow cannabis in Canada.
  • Allow personal cultivation of up to four plants per residence, with a height limit of 100 cm.
  • Maintain medical marijuana access separately, with the same tax system as non-medical use.
  • Move swiftly to create capacity for producing and selling cannabis.

Public Education and Safety

  •  Begin public education strategy immediately.
  • Determine how to establish limits to prevent an increase in cannabis-impaired driving.

For a copy of the report click here.

 

CRTC Establishes Fund to Attain New High-Speed Internet Targets

December 21, 2016 –The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declared that broadband access Internet service is now considered a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians. The CRTC is also setting ambitious new speed targets and creating a new fund that will invest up to $750 million over and above existing government programs.

Broadband and mobile services

Further to its legislative mandate, the CRTC has set the following targets for the basic telecommunications services that Canadians need to participate in the digital economy:

  • speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download/10 Mbps upload for fixed broadband Internet access services.
  • an unlimited data option for fixed broadband access services.
  • the latest mobile wireless technology available not only in homes and businesses, but also along major Canadian roads.

New funding for broadband projects

The CRTC is establishing a fund to support projects in areas that do not meet these targets. Applicants will be able to submit funding proposals in order to build or upgrade infrastructure for fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services. The fund will:

  • make available up to $750 million over the first five years;
  • be complementary to existing and future private investment and public funding;
  • focus on underserved areas; and
  • be managed at arm’s length by a third party.

Accessibility and tools for consumers

The CRTC wants Canadians to have access to the tools and services they need to empower themselves regarding fixed Internet access services. No later than six months from today, service providers should ensure that contracts are written in clear and plain language, and should make available online tools so consumers can easily manage their data usage.

Also, all wireless service providers will have to offer and publicize, no later than six months from today, mobile service packages that meet the needs of Canadians with disabilities.

The path forward for Canada’s digital economy

During its consultations with Canadians, the CRTC also identified further gaps regarding the adoption of broadband Internet services in Canada that are outside its core mandate. Today, the CRTC is submitting a report to the Innovation Agenda, as encouraged by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, on the availability and adoption of broadband Internet services in Canada. This report includes information on access gaps resulting from infrastructure, affordability and digital literacy issues, as well as barriers to connectivity in Indigenous communities.

The decision issued today complements the Government of Canada’s Innovation Agenda. Looking ahead, the CRTC will contribute in ways appropriate to its mandate. However, all stakeholders have a role to play to ensure that broadband Internet service is universally available and barriers to adoption are removed.

Quick Facts

  • Broadband Internet access services are necessary to the quality of life for Canadians and empowers them as citizens, creators and consumers.
  • While most are well-served, many Canadians, particularly those in rural and remote communities, do not have access to broadband Internet access services that are comparable to those offered to the vast majority of Canadians in terms of speed, capacity, quality and price.
  • Broadband Internet services would allow more Canadian entrepreneurs to easily access crucial information relating to international markets and create more business opportunities across Canada.
  • In 2015, 82% of Canadians had access to speeds of 50 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload for fixed broadband services.
  • The CRTC is shifting its regulatory focus from wireline voice to broadband services.
  • Currently there is a subsidy for residential local voice services in rural and remote areas that amounted to approximately $100 million in 2016.
  • The current local voice subsidy will now be transitioned to the new funding mechanism announced today (for projects that meet the new targets).
  • Further to a broad consultation, more than 50,000 Canadians provided their views on the telecommunications services they need to participate in the digital economy.