Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 5–6, pp 745–747 | Cite as

A missed opportunity? Cannabis legalization and reparations in Canada

  • Jenna VallerianiEmail author
  • Jennifer Lavalley
  • Ryan McNeil


As Canada moves towards the legalization of cannabis, the Cannabis Act itself remains void of any complementary social justice measures. Decades of criminalization for the possession, production, and sale of cannabis will remain unscathed under this ostensibly new approach, leaving intact laws that have disproportionately and prejudicially impacted Indigenous people and people of colour. This includes the overpolicing and criminalization of these communities, furthering criminal justice disparities, and the lack of meaningful initiatives to aid communities of colour and Indigenous communities in participating in the legal cannabis industry. Despite the continuing impacts, the Government of Canada has made no commitment to tandem initiatives that address the issues of reparation for those who have been most heavily targeted under cannabis prohibition. Public health implications are discussed.


Cannabis Legalization Public health Indigenous Cannabis Act Reparations Policy 


Alors que la légalisation du cannabis approche au Canada, la Loi sur le cannabis elle-même n’inclut aucune mesure de justice sociale complémentaire. Des décennies de criminalisation pour la possession, la production et la vente du cannabis demeureront indemnes selon cette prétendue nouvelle approche, laissant intactes des lois qui ont démesurément affecté les personnes autochtones et les personnes de couleur de manière discriminatoire. Ces lois incluent une présence policière excessive et la criminalisation de ces communautés, soutenant ainsi les inégalités au niveau judiciaire, et l’absence d’initiative significative pour aider les communautés de couleur et autochtones à participer au marché légal du cannabis. Malgré des impacts continus, le Gouvernement du Canada ne s’est pas engagé à créer des initiatives parallèles à la légalisation du cannabis pour adresser les enjeux de dédommagement pour ceux et celles qui ont été le plus ciblé(e)s sous sa prohibition. Les implications au niveau de la santé publique sont abordées.


Cannabis Légalisation Santé publique Autochtone Loi sur le cannabis Réparations Politique 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, St. Paul’s HospitalUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, St. Paul’s HospitalUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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