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ID: HR23-485
Presenting author: Nazlee Maghsoudi

Presenting author biography:

Nazlee Maghsoudi is the Manager of the Policy Impact Unit at the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation. She has supported the development of evidence- and rights-based drug policies since 2013. Nazlee is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, and Chair of the New York NGO Committee on Drugs.

Equity in Canada’s Legal Cannabis Industry: Research Findings and Policy Recommendations

Nazlee Maghsoudi, Dan Werb, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah
Background: Canada has been met with scrutiny and celebration by drug policy experts for its decision to introduce a legal regulatory framework for adult cannabis use, in part related to the perception that such a move can rectify longstanding socioeconomic inequities related to cannabis prohibition. In comparison to jurisdictions in the United States, however, Canada has done less to foster equity in its legal cannabis industry.

Aims: This oral presentation will discuss the current state of cannabis equity in Canada, defined as a) the inclusion of people from unrepresented racial groups and genders in senior positions in the legal cannabis industry, and b) amnesty for people with cannabis offences. In doing so, we will present research findings from our systematic assessment of the race and gender of those in senior positions in Canada's legal cannabis industry. We will then share results from our scoping review synthesizing the available evidence on the impacts of international cannabis equity approaches. Finally, we will discuss the impact of this research on policymaking in Canada.

Results: We found that Black and Indigenous people, as well as women, are vastly underrepresented in senior positions in the Canadian legal cannabis industry. These findings were explicitly included in the Government of Canada's Engagement Paper accompanying the legislative review of the federal Cannabis Act. Results from our scoping review (completed by March 2023) will offer evidence on approaches to improve equity in regulated cannabis markets.

Discussion: Taking into account the Canadian context as well as international experiences and best practices, we will propose policy considerations and recommendations as part of a roadmap for advancing cannabis equity in Canada and internationally.