The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali­cia Wal­lace Ali­cia Wal­lace: 303-954-1939, awal­lace@den­ver­ or @ali­ci­awal­lace

Now is the time for Canada to move from pro­hi­bi­tion and be­come the largest de­vel­oped coun­try to estab­lish a well-reg­u­lated le­gal mar­i­juana in­dus­try, mem­bers of the coun­try’s mar­i­juana task force said Tues­day.

Canada’s mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion task force has out­lined 80 rec­om­men­da­tions for the coun­try’s po­ten­tial le­gal cannabis regime, in­clud­ing a min­i­mum pur­chase age of 18; penal­ties against im­paired driv­ing; reg­u­la­tions for pack­ag­ing and pes­ti­cides; de­crim­i­nal­iza­tion ef­forts for mi­nor of­fenses; and fur­ther ro­bust re­search on the plant for pub­lic health, safety and po­ten­tial med­i­cal pur­poses.

Canada is “well-po­si­tioned” to im­ple­ment a frame­work for mar­i­juana le­gal­iza- tion that would estab­lish a reg­u­lated, pub­lic health- and re­search-fo­cused sys­tem that would dis­place the en­trenched il­licit mar­ket, lead­ers of the task force said Tues­day.

“The pro­hibitory regime that has ex­isted is not work­ing, and it is not meet­ing the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of pub­lic health and safety that has to be at the core of this kind of pub­lic pol­icy,” said Anne McLel­lan, the for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter who serves as chair­woman of the task force.

Canada’s gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to de­velop mar­i­juana leg­is­la­tion in 2017. Fi­nan­cial an­a­lysts es­ti­mate that Canada’s le­gal mar­i­juana mar­ket could to­tal 3.8 mil­lion recre­ational users and $4.5 bil­lion of sales by 2021.

The task force’s 106-page re­port is the re­sult of five months of re­search and con­sul­ta­tions that in­cluded 30,000 re­sponses to an on­line ques­tion­naire, meet­ings with pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial gov­ern­ments, in­ter­views with ex­perts across a va­ri­ety of fields and in­dus­tries, con­ver­sa­tions with med­i­cal pa­tients and in­ter­na­tional vis­its to Uruguay and U.S. states with adult-use mar­i­juana laws such as Colorado and Wash­ing­ton.

The key take­aways from those in­ter­views with le­gal mar­i­juana mar­kets in­cluded es­tab­lish­ing base­line rules while also build­ing flex­i­bil­ity into the frame­work, said Dr. Mark Ware, chair­man of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Cannabi­noid Medicine and the task force’s vice chair­man.

“Gen­er­ally, we be­lieve it is ap­pro­pri­ate to pro­ceed with cau­tion,” McLel­lan said.

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