3 doctors and a lawyer on Cannabis Act expert panel

Published on November 24, 2022 by oz. staff

Photo: Contributed
Dr. Oyedeji Ayonrinde is one of four expert panel members tasked with reviewing the Cannabis Act. It's chaired by Morris Roseberg.

A panel of experts reviewing the Cannabis Act represent a cross-section of expertise, with an emphasis on addictions and criminal law.

The four expert panel members were revealed Thursday by the federal government, about two months after the legislative review of the federal cannabis file was announced back in September. At the time, Morris Rosenberg was named chairman of the panel.

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Initially, the review was to have a narrow scope, looking into public health, Indigenous issues, and youth cannabis use. However, the scope of the review was expanded to include economic, social, and environmental impacts of legalization.

There are no panel experts with a background in business, economics, or global trade.

The panel is tasked with providing independent, expert advice to Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett. That feedback will include their take on the progress made towards achieving the Cannabis Act’s objectives and identifying potential areas of improvement.

The report is supposed to be tabled 18 months after the review begins.

The four Cannabis Act panel members

The panel members are:

Dr. Oyedeji Ayonrinde, an associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and psychology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. He is also the chairman of the Commission on Black Medical Students at Queen’s University.

Dr. Patricia J. Conrod, a clinical psychologist by training and a full professor of psychiatry at the Université de Montréal. From 2016-2018, she participated as an advisor and spokesperson for Health Canada’s Public Education Campaign during the transition to cannabis legalization.

Lynda L. Levesque, a Crown prosecutor in Calgary; though she also has experience as a defence lawyer. She is also a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation in Manitoba.

Dr. Peter Selby, professor, vice-chair of research, and head of the division of mental health and addiction in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto.

Wide-ranging cannabis review

The expert panel has been mandated to engage with the public, governments, Indigenous peoples, youth, marginalized and racialized communities, cannabis industry representatives, and people who access cannabis for medical purposes, to gather their perspectives on the implementation and administration of the Cannabis Act.

The legislative review will evaluate:

  • Impacts on young persons;
  • Progress towards providing adults with access to strictly regulated, lower risk, legal cannabis products;
  • Progress made in deterring criminal activity and displacing the illicit cannabis market;
  • Impacts of legalization and regulation on access to cannabis for medical purposes;
  • Impacts on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples and communities; and
  • Trends and impact of home cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes.

The Panel will broaden that focus to include:

  • Economic, social and environmental impacts of the Act;
  • Impacts on racialized communities, and women who might be at greater risk of harm or face greater barriers to participation in the legal industry based on identity or socio-economic factors.