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Canada has been there: What NZ can learn from their cannabis legalisation and regulation process

For those unable to be there in person, this lecture will also be offered online (Summer School Zoom Webinar)

If you are interested in the full day symposium, see Cannabis conundrums and other drug policy challenges


Canada has been there poster thumbnailHow did Canada go about legalising and regulating cannabis? Learn from Eric Costen, a senior Canadian Department of Health official who spearheaded the design, development and implementation of new legislation to legalise and strictly regulate cannabis for non-medical purposes.

In 2015 the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, committed to legalise and strictly regulate cannabis for non-medical purposes. Following up on this commitment, on 17 October 2018 Canadians were able to legally purchase a limited range of cannabis products for the first time. Adopting a public health approach to the legalisation and regulation of cannabis took numerous rounds of consultaton and debate, as lawmakers strived to develop a framework that would efficiently protect public health and safety.
This process is something New Zealand can learn from. With the referendum on adult use of cannabis scheduled for the 2020 general election we have a lot of detail to work through. This public talk will provide an opportunity to learn about Canada's process and what they considered along the way.
The result is a public healh approach that seeks to minimise the harms of cannabis use through a set of comprehensive regulations and an intensive public education campaign. The law is being implemented across Canada, with retail and distribution taking different forms in each of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories. Canada has already begun collecting data to help measure the impacts of the law change, including a roadmap for evaluation.

About the speaker Eric Costen

Eric Costen is currently the Associate Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Canada's Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch. In this role he is responsible for the department's opioid response and controlled substances policies and programs. Previously, he was Director General, Strategic Policy for cannabis legalization and regulation, where he was responsible for leading the development of the Cannabis Act, Cannabis Regulations, and for establishing and maintaining intergovernmental, Indigenous, and global partnerships. In 2016 he headed a federal Secretariat to the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, chaired by the Honourable Anne McLellan, which led a national dialogue on cannabis law reform in Canada.

Eric has held a range of health policy positions over his 14 years in the federal government. Between 2013-2016, he established and served as the first Executive Director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, implementing new federal regulations for the establishment a system of regulated cannabis production and sale. Prior to this, between 2006-2011, he served as the Director of First Nations and Inuit mental Health and substance use programs and policies.
Eric has a degree from the University of Ottawa. He is the proud father of four boys.

All welcome.

See details of all 4 Public Lectures for the 2019 Public Health Summer School.

Date Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Time 5:15pm - 6:00pm
Audience Public,All University
Event Category Health Sciences
Event Type Public Lecture
DepartmentPublic Health (Wellington)
LocationUniversity of Otago, Wellington | 23a Mein Street, Newtown | Level D, Nordmeyer Theatre

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