Madam Speaker, I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with my colleague and hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.
Before I give the formal part of my speech, I would like to start by discussing an element that was brought up by the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, who had spoken about a number of members of the Senate and others as well as the Right Hon. John Turner as to their potential financial interest in legalizing marijuana.
I understand this is an issue of privilege, that members can say what pleases them in this House. However, I found it particularly unparliamentary that the member would raise the record of someone who has served this country with distinction and with honour in talking about the Right Hon. John Turner who was Prime Minister of Canada, and among the positions he occupied he also was the minister of finance and the minister of justice. He is a man of some advanced age, I believe. I would like to wish him a happy birthday; he turned 89 quite recently. I know it on good authority that he has zero interest in the legalization of marijuana or any pecuniary derivative thereof.
I will not presume bad faith on the side of the hon. member, and I hope that when he gets a chance to retract those words he does so because we are in fact talking about a person who served this country honourably, regardless of party lines. I do hope the member takes the chance to retract those comments.
I am pleased to rise in the House today to respond to an amendment adopted by the Senate with regard to Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.
I commend the Senate for the valuable work that it did as part of its in-depth study of Bill C-45. However, I believe that some of the amendments the Senate adopted do not fully support the political objectives of the bill. They may also have unintended consequences.
Take for example, clause 5.2, a new clause that would provide for the following:
For greater certainty, this Act does not affect the operation of any provision of provincial legislation that is more restrictive with respect to, or prohibits, the cultivation, propagation or harvesting of cannabis in a dwelling-house.
Bill C-45 would allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence. Cannabis grown in a dwelling-house could not, under any circumstances, be sold to others, and anyone who grows more than four plants could be criminally charged.
The justification for the proposal to allow Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants per household is twofold. First, this proposal would help displace the illegal cannabis market. Second, it would help prevent the unnecessary criminalization of otherwise law-abiding Canadians who safely and responsibly grow a small number of cannabis plants at home for personal use.
Home cultivation would also create a legal source of cannabis for people who do not have easy access to it through a provincial or territorial store or an online platform, particularly those who live in remote regions.
The proposal to allow people to grow a limited quantity of cannabis for personal use is similar to the current provisions regarding tobacco and alcohol. Canadians can legally grow their own tobacco or brew their own beer at home for personal use.
We can also trust Canadians to properly store cannabis, just as they safely store their prescription drugs at home in a responsible manner.
I would also like to point out that in the national cannabis survey, one of the questions the government asked was where people currently get their cannabis and where they thought they might be able to access it in the future. Of all the respondents who use cannabis, only 2% had thought of cultivating it for personal use.
The home cultivation our government is proposing is based on the opinion of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation, and is in line with the frameworks adopted by most of the American states that have chosen to legalize and regulate cannabis for non-medical purposes, particularly Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada and Alaska.
Those states allow home cultivation and have limits regarding the number of plants that can be grown, ranging from four to 12 plants per household. It is important to remember that Bill C-45 was designed to allow the provinces and territories to oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis within their borders and to add additional restrictions regarding certain aspects that are not proposed in the federal cannabis legislation, such as personal cultivation, if they wish.
That flexibility is there so they can adapt their laws in response to local realities and priorities in a way that is compatible with the public health and public safety goals in the proposed cannabis legislation.
The Government of Canada believes that the provinces and territories are in the best position to determine whether they need such restrictions and to establish tougher regulations. Most of the provinces do allow home cultivation of four plants as set out in Bill C-45. However, some provinces have already chosen to include restrictions in their legislation. For example, New Brunswick requires cannabis cultivated outdoors to be surrounded by a locked enclosure. Indoor cultivation must take place in a separate, locked space. Alberta would allow indoor cultivation only, and Nova Scotia has indicated that it would allow landlords to prohibit cannabis cultivation and smoking in rental units.
If someone decided to challenge a provision of a provincial cannabis law, a court would review the provincial system in its entirety, along with the federal cannabis law. It would then be up to the court to determine whether there was a conflict or whether the objectives of the federal legislation had been frustrated.
Over the past two years, our government has carried out extensive consultations and studies to support this bill. In this way, we have developed the best possible measures for protecting all Canadians, especially young Canadians.
Bill C-45 is largely based on the recommendations of the task force I mentioned earlier, which were formulated based on the opinions and expertise gathered through the extensive consultations. The bill reflects and balances the broad array of opinions from the provinces and territories, municipalities, communities, indigenous governments, and a wide range of experts and stakeholders.
The provincial and territorial governments developed their own legislation based on this insightful framework, and their investments and preparations for the establishment of retail systems are well under way.
Bill C-45 proposes to allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants at home. It is essential to allow home cultivation in order to support the government's objective of displacing the illegal market.
The government is proposing a national approach to home cultivation designed to allow this activity to be achieved in a way that takes into account the valuable comments received from countless stakeholders. Although the framework for legalization includes some flexibility for setting certain restrictions on home cultivation, we are of the opinion that this amendment is inconsistent with that approach.
However, as we know, the bill contains a provision to review the cannabis act. Under that provision, three years after the coming into force, the minister will have to ensure that the act and its application are reviewed. Our government is proposing to amend that provision in order to specify that the review in question will include a review of the impacts of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house. Our government is committed to carefully examining the findings of such a review.
Based on the evidence currently before us, we are fully convinced that home cultivation can be done in such a way that is compatible with the health and public safety objectives of the bill. It constitutes a reasonable way to allow adults to grow cannabis for personal use, and that approach squares with the opinion of the task force and the approach adopted by most of the American states that have legalized and regulated cannabis.
For those reasons, I will not be supporting this amendment.