Cannabis Act

An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment enacts the Cannabis Act to provide legal access to cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution and sale.

The objectives of the Act are to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework. The Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.

The Act

(a) establishes criminal prohibitions such as the unlawful sale or distribution of cannabis, including its sale or distribution to young persons, and the unlawful possession, production, importation and exportation of cannabis;

(b) enables the Minister to authorize the possession, production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis, as well as to suspend, amend or revoke those authorizations when warranted;

(c) authorizes persons to possess, sell or distribute cannabis if they are authorized to sell cannabis under a provincial Act that contains certain legislative measures;

(d) prohibits any promotion, packaging and labelling of cannabis that could be appealing to young persons or encourage its consumption, while allowing consumers to have access to information with which they can make informed decisions about the consumption of cannabis;

(e) provides for inspection powers, the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties and the ability to commence proceedings for certain offences by means of a ticket;

(f) includes mechanisms to deal with seized cannabis and other property;

(g) authorizes the Minister to make orders in relation to matters such as product recalls, the provision of information, the conduct of tests or studies, and the taking of measures to prevent non-compliance with the Act;

(h) permits the establishment of a cannabis tracking system for the purposes of the enforcement and administration of the Act;

(i) authorizes the Minister to fix, by order, fees related to the administration of the Act; and

(j) authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting such matters as quality, testing, composition, packaging and labelling of cannabis, security clearances and the collection and disclosure of information in respect of cannabis as well as to make regulations exempting certain persons or classes of cannabis from the application of the Act.

This enactment also amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to, among other things, increase the maximum penalties for certain offences and to authorize the Minister to engage persons having technical or specialized knowledge to provide advice. It repeals item 1 of Schedule II and makes consequential amendments to that Act as the result of that repeal.

In addition, it repeals Part XII.‍1 of the Criminal Code, which deals with instruments and literature for illicit drug use, and makes consequential amendments to that Act.

It amends the Non-smokers’ Health Act to prohibit the smoking and vaping of cannabis in federally regulated places and conveyances.

Finally, it makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 18, 2018 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
Nov. 27, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
Nov. 27, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (recommittal to a committee)
Nov. 21, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
Nov. 21, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (report stage amendment)
Nov. 21, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (report stage amendment)
Nov. 21, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
June 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
June 8, 2017 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (reasoned amendment)
June 6, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 18th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, a good way to start off is to comment on a question from across the floor, which was something like why legalize instead of just decriminalizing it.

With respect to decriminalization of cannabis, there are two entities I am aware of that support it. One would be the Conservative Party of Canada. The other would be the many different criminal elements in society, because it is the criminal element that would benefit the most if all we did was decriminalize cannabis. Let us think about it. As opposed to having a criminal charge, one would get a fine. That is what the Conservative Party would like to happen. I know that the gangs in the north end of Winnipeg would love to have a policy of that nature.

Through legalization, we are saying that we want to have a real, tangible impact on two things in particular which, for me, are the highest priorities. One is the use of cannabis by young people in our society today. This legislation would go much farther than anything we have ever seen in this House in the last 20-plus years in terms of taking a more responsible approach. I suggest that we would actually have fewer young people engaged in cannabis as a direct result of this legislation. I will give a specific example.

The other thing we are going to see is a lot of disappointed individuals who use cannabis as an illegal way to acquire great sums of money. We are talking about criminal activities that generate hundreds of millions of dollars every year through selling cannabis to youth in every region of our country. People should put themselves in the position of a young 14-year-old or 15-year-old attending a school anywhere in our country who is told that he or she can make money by taking a bag of marijuana and selling it to their friends or siblings.

There is a lot of peer pressure for young people, and the motivation is often to go out and generate pocket money. Ultimately this goes back to the gang activities we often see in our communities. That is what is actually happening today in our high schools and elementary schools. There are individuals who, through criminal activities, are being motivated to get young people more engaged. As a per capita percentage, we have more young people engaged in cannabis than any other country in the western world. There is so much we could be doing to have a real positive impact.

I am very pleased with the amount of consultation that has taken place. One member of the Conservative Party said that very few people know about it and the member is concerned about the school boards and so forth. I would suggest there are very few issues which have generated the type of attention this one has. In fact, it was a major platform issue for the Liberal Party of Canada going into the last federal election. It has been covered by many different media outlets. People make reference to social media. It has been included in householders across the country.

I would find it very difficult to believe that there is any elected official let alone members of the general public in Canada who are not aware of it. People are very much attune to and aware of what is taking place in anticipation of cannabis being legalized. I do not share the concerns the Conservatives have that people are not aware or that there is just not enough attention being given to the issue.

Whether it is the bureaucrats at the health or public safety departments, or the ministers in particular, I must point out that in my many years of being a parliamentarian, never have I seen an individual lead the process on legislation, and be as open and transparent as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health. The parliamentary secretary has done an outstanding job.

I want to commend members in both the House and the Senate, as well as all the other stakeholders for the outreach and information flow to ensure that this legislation is being done in the right way.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

moved:

That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that, in relation to Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, the House:

agrees with amendments 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 11(b) and (c), 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17(b), 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 34, 35, 36 and 37 made by the Senate;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 3 because the government has been clear that provinces and territories are able to make additional restrictions on personal cultivation but that it is critically important to permit personal cultivation in order to support the government’s objective of displacing the illegal market;

respectfully disagrees with amendments 4, 11(a) and 38 because they would be contrary to the stated purpose of the Cannabis Act to protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 7 because the criminal penalties and the immigration consequences aim to prevent young people from accessing cannabis and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for prohibited activities, including importing and exporting cannabis and using a young person to commit cannabis-related offences;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 8 because the Cannabis Act already includes comprehensive restrictions on promotion;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 9 because the government has already committed to establishing THC limits in regulations, which will provide flexibility to make future adjustments based on new evidence and product innovation;

respectfully disagrees with amendments 17(a) and 25 because other Senate amendments that the House is accepting would provide the Minister with expanded powers to require security clearances, and because amendments 17(a) and 25 would present significant operational challenges and privacy concerns;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 23 because law enforcement has an obligation to maintain evidence unless there is a risk to health and safety, and provisions currently exist in the Cannabis Act to provide compensation should evidence be disposed of and ordered to be returned;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 26 because mechanisms already exist to provide for public scrutiny of federal regulations;

proposes that amendment 31 be amended by replacing the text of section 151.1 with the following text:

“151.1 (1) Three years after this section comes into force, the Minister must cause a review of this Act and its administration and operation to be conducted, including a review of the impact of this Act on public health and, in particular, on the health and consumption habits of young persons in respect of cannabis use, the impact of cannabis on Indigenous persons and communities, and the impact of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house.

(2) No later than 18 months after the day on which the review begins, the Minister must cause a report on the review, including any findings or recommendations resulting from it, to be laid before each House of Parliament.”;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 32 because the Bill already provides for a comprehensive review of the core objectives of the Cannabis Act, including a requirement to table a report in Parliament and because the suggested amendment to amendment 31 provides for a review of the public health impacts of the Cannabis Act;

respectfully disagrees with amendment 33 because Parliament already has broad discretion to initiate studies of specific matters by parliamentary committees, and because the Bill already provides for a comprehensive review of the Cannabis Act, including a requirement to table a report in Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be here today and to rise to speak to Bill C-45, Cannabis Act. I would first congratulate the other chamber for its excellent work and careful study of this bill. Once again, I want to point out the great work done by all senators over the past seven months and by committees that did remarkable work over many meetings.

We are about to witness an historic moment in Canada. When this bill comes into effect, it will change the way our country controls access to cannabis.

It will be an important change for every one of us, including governments, indigenous peoples, law enforcement agencies, health professionals, and Canadians.

As I have said many times, our objective for legalization is to replace a system that is not working. We need to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the hands of organized crime.

Bill C-45 gives us the tools we need to accomplish that.

As we know, the bill before us today is the result of more than two years of study and consultation.

It builds on the extensive work of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation. The task force consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, from the provinces and territories, to law enforcement, to health and safety experts. It also reached out to young Canadians, indigenous people, and many others. Their feedback and recommendations certainly helped shape this bill.

The proposed legislation is informed by lessons learned from jurisdictions in the United States and elsewhere that have legalized and regulated cannabis. It included effective practices from other regulatory regimes such as tobacco, for which we have implemented a public health approach with demonstrated success.

As a result, the proposed legalization strikes the right balance between making cannabis legally available to adults and protecting all Canadians.

Over the past few months, this bill has been studied and debated by the other place. Five of its committees carried out comprehensive studies and heard from over 200 witnesses. This work led them to propose a number of amendments to the bill. Several of those amendments made Bill C-45 stronger.

For example, senators had proposed an amendment that would strengthen our ability to keep organized crime out of the legal industry by giving the minister the power to require specific persons associated with a licensed organization to hold a valid security clearance. There is no doubt that this change improves Bill C-45 and the government will fully support it.

We are, however, concerned that other proposed changes could undermine the bill. After careful thought and consideration, we have decided not to support some of the proposed amendments. My colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, will speak in more detail about this decision.

In the meantime, I would like to focus on two specific issues that have captured the interest of the other place. Let us talk about the indigenous perspective.

The first concerns the indigenous perspective on Bill C-45. In a recent letter, the Minister of Indigenous Services and I acknowledged the interests and concerns raised by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. We have committed to continue to take action in specific areas including supporting mental health and addiction services, public education and participation in cannabis production, and addressing jurisdictional and revenue-sharing issues.

We have committed to report to both chambers on progress in these areas within 12 months of receiving royal assent. I would like to assure members that our government has noted these areas of interest and concern. We will address each area through continued engagement with indigenous communities, indigenous organizations, and with the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Home growing was the other issue that received careful consideration from the other place. As we know, the bill allows adults to grow four plants per household. There are three reasons why limited home growing should be allowed.

First, allowing people to grow a small number of plants for personal use will prevent the needless criminalization of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Second, limited home growing will help displace the black market, an unsafe, unregulated market that supports criminals and organized crime.

The bill sets out strict rules for growing cannabis at home. Setting a very low limit on the number of plants is a reasonable way to allow adults to cultivate cannabis for their personal use while prohibiting larger-scale grow ops.

Under the proposed legislation, provinces and territories have the flexibility to impose additional restrictions on personal cultivation should they wish to do so. This flexibility will allow provinces and territories to tailor their legislation to local circumstances and priorities in keeping with the public health and safety objectives set out in the proposed cannabis act.

This new legislation is an essential component of our overall public health strategy for cannabis. The purpose of this approach is to minimize the harms associated with cannabis use and decrease the probability of substance abuse. Our public health approach includes significant investments in budget 2017 and budget 2018 for promoting awareness and providing information. It also provides for close monitoring of the impact.

In accordance with this strategy, we will provide the facts on cannabis to Canadians. The government will then be able to measure and understand the impact of these policy changes over time.

We know that there are health risks associated with cannabis use. These risks are higher in certain age groups and among people with specific health conditions. Our objective is both to give people the information they need to make informed decisions about cannabis and to minimize the risks.

Through all of this, our top priority is to protect our youth. Youth face the greatest health risks from using cannabis and are especially vulnerable to its effects. For this reason, the bill contains many measures that have been designed to restrict access to cannabis and to protect young people. This is essential, given that Canadian youth use cannabis at a rate that is among the highest in the world. This is why Bill C-45 proposes serious criminal penalties for those who provide cannabis to anyone under the age of 18.

The bill also includes prohibitions on promotion and advertising and on products, packaging, and labelling that would be appealing to youth.

The bill introduced today was carefully crafted to address the long-standing problem of immediate access to and prolonged use of cannabis in Canada. There is a pervasive illegal market that is deeply entrenched. This market does not comply with any rules or regulations to protect the public, and especially our youth.

We promised a solution to Canadians, and we have kept our promise. Over the past two years, our government carried out a huge amount of research, analysis, and planning for Bill C-45. We consulted various stakeholders and we spoke with our partners.

We made strategic investments to inform Canadians about the health impacts of cannabis and the risks associated with driving under the influence of drugs.

We also examined and accepted a number of sensible amendments, and we will do so again today.

I am convinced that Bill C-45 gives us the legal framework we need to protect Canadians, especially our young people.

Canada is well positioned to make this change. We already have a world-class system for the production and regulation of cannabis for medical use. The bill proposes to build on this strong regulatory regime.

We will continue working closely with our partners at the provincial and territorial level and indigenous communities to ensure a successful implementation of this legislation once it is passed.

The provinces and territories are ready. Canadians are ready as well.

As parliamentarians, we have done our job and produced an historic package of legislative measures in the interest of Canadians.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the minister is clearly not in possession of the facts. Although she claims that this new bill is going to work to eliminate marijuana from the hands of children, it is clear that is not going to happen and neither will it eliminate organized crime.

Washington State did not allow home grow and organized crime was eliminated. The minister has gone on record saying that what the government is implementing will accomplish that, when clearly in Colorado, that allowed home grow, that did not happen.

Knowing that four plants in a house can be 600 grams, and that was before the height restriction was removed, there will be a huge amount. Provinces like Manitoba and Quebec have recognized that that will not keep it out of the hands of children. The minister's own province of New Brunswick put in lock-up provisions recognizing it does not.

With that, why did the minister allow home grow to be included in this legislation?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, once again we have to make it very clear that our objective in moving forward with Bill C-45 is simple. We are moving forward with legalization as we want to restrict access to cannabis by our youth. We want to protect our youth. We also want to regulate the product that is on the market.

With respect to the issue of home grow, we have to recognize that if we want to displace the illegal market, we have to use all the tools that we have at our disposal.

We recognize as well that when individuals have a prescription to grow cannabis for medical purposes, they have the opportunity to grow that product at home. When we talk about recreational cannabis, we feel that both systems should be consistent.

I also have to add that for all provinces and territories, should they choose to add additional limits with respect to home cultivation, they will be able to do so. If a province chooses to only allow one plant to be grown, it can absolutely do that.

As my friend and colleague indicated, the province of New Brunswick, my home province, has even put a specific requirement forward. It wants to ensure that if New Brunswickers choose home cultivation they will have to do so under lock and key.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I recognize that for both ministers this is a very difficult bill. Overall, I certainly support Bill C-45. In general, it strikes the right balance. However, I am disappointed that some of the Senate amendments have been rejected, and I wonder if the minister would reconsider.

I tried similar amendments when the bill was before committee. The ones I could generally lump together are clause 9, pages 10 and 11; and another one further in, clause 51, pages 29 to 31, dealing with what we might characterize as social sharing. I am very concerned that young people will not realize that if they are 18 years old and their best friend is 17 years, 11 months, and two weeks old, passing a joint to this friend in a social setting would constitute distribution and could even involve jail time.

I think we ought to look at these amendments that came from the Senate. Again, I think that the government has done a pretty fair job here. I have a lot of concern on regulations, which I will raise later. I am very concerned to make sure that legal growing outdoors of organic cannabis would be permitted. However, for now, looking at these amendments, I wonder if there might be some reconsideration around this particular area of concern.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, as I have indicated earlier, very clearly, the Senate has certainly been studying this proposed legislation for the past seven months. We absolutely appreciate the work that it has done. We have given careful consideration to all of the amendments that the Senate has brought forward, and after discussions with my colleagues, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Public Safety, as well as many cabinet colleagues, and the parliamentary secretary, we have made the decision to accept some amendments and some we have decided to oppose.

When it comes to the specific amendment that my friend and colleague has mentioned, we really felt that it was counterintuitive with respect to the sharing aspect at such a close age. It is an area that we have given close consideration to, but at this point, our government is not prepared to accept that amendment.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, just two days ago, the Government of Quebec adopted its own bill for the province, and it was extremely clear about the province's desire to be able to ban home cultivation.

The minister says that they talked about the bill throughout the entire two-year process and that the senators did good work. They did such good work that their 46 amendments speak to the mediocrity of this bill.

The reality is that the Government of Quebec does not want its citizens to be allowed to grow plants at home because it feels that it is not in the interest of young children.

Why will the minister not respect the will of the Province of Quebec?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, once again, I want to thank my colleague for his question.

With regard to home cultivation, we obviously thought about this issue and also closely examined this amendment. We recognize that the Senate did a thorough job, and we studied all the recommendations made to date.

I do not agree with my colleague who called it a mediocre law. The task force on cannabis legalization and regulation did great work, and we have been working on this bill for two years. We are convinced that Bill C-45 is really good.

It was very important for the other chamber, the Senate, to review it and make recommendations. On this side of the House, we studied these recommendations very carefully and we accepted the majority of amendments.

We do not hold the same position on home cultivation, but we nevertheless respect the work done by everyone.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, it is a real pleasure to see the bill come back to this House with some of those recommendations. However, despite the fact that we hear rhetoric from the opposition around increased consumption among youth, the reality of the situation is that we know youth in Canada are at the high end of utilizing marijuana as it currently stands.

I wonder if the minister could comment on those statistics and on what the bill seeks to accomplish in terms of reducing cannabis use among youth in Canada.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, the priority of Bill C-45, as we legalize cannabis, is to restrict cannabis and get it out of the hands of youth. We recognize that in Canada, in many instances, it is easier for our youth to purchase cannabis than it is for them to purchase cigarettes. We recognize that the current system is not working, and that is why we are moving forward with the bill. We want to legalize, restrict, and also regulate this substance.

We recognize that Canadian youth are among the highest consumers of cannabis among the developed countries. As a result, we are taking a public health approach. We are making some significant investments in the area of public education and awareness. We are also partnering with many agencies to make sure that we provide the appropriate tools to provide the public education and the awareness campaign that is needed to ensure that they get the proper information.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, one of the concerns one of the members brought up earlier was about having two young people together, one who is of age and one who is very close but not quite there, and the criminal record they could get for making the mistake of passing a joint. I wonder if you could talk a bit about what your plans are to actually educate young people to make sure that we negate that as much as possible.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, as I was indicating earlier with respect to the public education and awareness campaign, it is important to make sure that the appropriate investments are made to inform Canadians about Bill C-45 with respect to the coming into force date and all the information that needs to go with it. I also have to stress that the information and tools we are going to put in place with respect to public education and awareness are key.

The public education campaigns have already started. They started last year, and we are continuing to roll out these products. We recognize that we have to get the key messages out to Canadians, because we want them to be able to make responsible choices.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to say that this will probably be my last opportunity to speak to Bill C-45, so I want to make sure I give it full coverage.

The government says that the reason it is bringing in this legislation is that what is in place now is not working. What is proposed under Bill C-45 is not going to work either, even with the many amendments that have been brought forward.

What was this bill supposed to do in the first place? If we refer to the purpose of the bill, it is supposed to “protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis”. We can see right away a couple of things in the bill that are going to put cannabis into the hands of young children. First is clause 8, which would allow young people aged 12 to 17 to have up to five grams of cannabis. That is the wrong message in any universe.

We have talked about home grow and how when people have in excess of 600 grams of cannabis growing in a house, young people are likely to get hold of it, in the same way they get hold of liquor in the liquor cabinet. This is certainly not going to keep cannabis out of the hands of young children.

Furthermore, I would say that if the government has a belief that the systems being put in place in some provinces are going to help out, let me assure the House that Kathleen Wynne put in a process in Ontario of LCBO-type stores and delivery. For people in Sarnia—Lambton, the closest store is in London. If they called their drug dealers today, in about 30 minutes they could have whatever quantity they wanted delivered to their houses for about $7 a gram. The government has proposed a price of $10 a gram, with $1 in tax on top of that. If it thinks that is going to work to displace the organized crime that is in place, it is sadly mistaken.

The other item I want to talk about with respect to youth is the public education that was supposed to happen. The Canadian Medical Association has been clear that among young people under the age of 25 who use cannabis, 30% will have severe mental illness issues, such as psychotic disorders, bipolar, anxiety, and depression, and 10% will become addicted. Where is the public education on that? Where is the message to tell young people today that this is harmful? That message is not out there. Young people are saying, “It's no more harmful than alcohol.” They are not getting the message.

The only public campaign that has been done was done by the Minister of Public Safety, who did a brief TV commercial to let kids know that they should not drive while they are drug-impaired, which, while true, is totally inadequate to have the kind of public education that was recommended by Colorado and the State of Washington. Colorado did $10 million worth of public education for a population that is lot smaller than what Canada has. The State of Washington did the same.

We are certainly not going to achieve the first objective of keeping it out of the hands of children. What about some of the others? Will we provide for only the legal production of cannabis “to reduce illicit activities in relation to cannabis”? If we look at all the places that have legalized marijuana, we see that in Colorado, which allowed home grow, it still has significant issues with organized crime. The police have a lot of nuisance complaints, and there are entire residential neighbourhoods that smell. There are lots of problems there.

We can look at the State of Washington, which decided that it would not allow home grow, except in the case of medicinal marijuana. It was able, in three years, to reduce organized crime to less than 20%. Because it had set the age at 21, it was able to make it difficult for young people to actually get hold of marijuana. It is unlikely that 21-year-olds would be sharing with 17-year-olds, unlike with the legislation we have before us.

Another problem that has not been addressed by the government with respect to home grow concerns property-owner rights. In Ontario and Quebec, once this legislation is passed, property owners would be unable to prevent people from growing marijuana in their houses. For those who are maybe less experienced, when growing marijuana, there can often be a mould problem in the house. I have been approached by the real estate associations, which have asked questions. Currently, when there is a home grow in a house, and the house is sold, they have to do a total remediation for the mould and a recertification of the house. They want to know if they are going to have to do that for all the home grows. That question has not been answered by the government.

The other question that has not been answered by the government has to do with the impact at the border. I live in a border community. Conversations have been had with Homeland Security and with border officials. They have said, “Canada is changing its law. We are not changing our law federally. It still is illegal federally, and we are not adding resources because of Canada's law.” Dogs will sniff. If people have second-hand smoke residue on their clothes, if a kid borrowed the car and happened to be out with other kids who were smoking marijuana, if people smoke themselves and do not happen to have any with them but have the residue, the dogs will sniff it out, and people will be pulled over into secondary, and they will go through the standard procedure there. The problem is that there is not enough secondary for the number of people who will be pulled over. When asked what they will do then, they said they would put a cone in the lane the person is in and perform the secondary inspection there, which will back everything up. They have informed us to expect an increase of up to 300% in wait times at the border.

The government has known about this for two and a half years. It has done nothing to establish any kind of agreement with the government of the U.S., other than to say to make sure that people tell the truth. That, of course, is great advice, but it will not prevent the wait times and the problems that are going to be seen at the border.

Furthermore, the government has not educated young people to understand that if they are caught with marijuana in the U.S., it is a lifetime ban from that country. The U.S. is not the only country that will ban people for the possession of marijuana. There are a lot of countries in the world. Young people who intend to have a global career are not being informed about this, and there could be very adverse consequences from the public education that has not happened.

This bill was also supposed to “reduce the burden on the criminal justice system”. Unfortunately, we know that the justice minister is behind the eight ball in terms of putting judges in place. She is about 60 short. Because of that, we see murderers and rapists going free due to Jordan's principle. If there were an intent on the part of the Liberals to try to clear the backlog and make sure that those who have committed more serious crimes receive punishment, one of the things they could have done, as was suggested many times, even since last September, was let those who have marijuana charges drop off the list and get out of the queue so that the more serious offences could be prosecuted. Of course, the Liberals have done nothing with respect to that, and so again, they are not going to actually offload them from the system. In fact, there would be more criminal charges under this legislation than previously existed, because now, if people had five plants instead of four, that would be an offence. Now, if they had 31 grams instead of 30, that would be an offence. Now there would be offences for transferring it to younger people. There would be a lot of offences that did not exist previously, so definitely, we will not achieve that goal.

There was the goal to ”provide access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis”. Now that they would allow home grow, and everyone is going to be doing their own thing, there would actually be no management of the quality control of this product. That is also not acceptable.

Some of the other unanswered questions we see have to do with workplace safety. This was raised when the marijuana issue was studied by the original council. There was testimony brought to committee. There were questions raised all over the place. How are we going to protect the employers, who have the liability, and the other employees, who are worried? They are worried about people who may come to work drug impaired. We do not want to be flying with Air Canada and have the pilot impaired. We do not want to have people operating nuclear plants who may be drug impaired.

Bill C-46 was supposed to be the companion legislation to Bill C-45. Bill C-46 was going to allow mandatory and random testing on the roadside, because, as people know, it is dangerous to smoke drugs and then drive a car. That was going to open the door, then, for people to say that if it is dangerous to smoke drugs and drive a car, perhaps it is also dangerous to then drive a plane or drive a train or operate a nuclear plant, or any of these other things. The question of workplace safety and how we are going to protect and what legislation is going into place is a total blank space.

We have not looked to our neighbours to the south that have legalized and have both mandatory and random testing in place. I worked on many projects, and I actually had an office in the States at one point in time, so I know that American employers are able to screen people before they hire them. They are able to mandatory test them, and they are able to random test them. The government has totally lacked leadership in addressing the issue of workplace safety, etc.

With respect to the actual amendments that have come, some were good and some were not good. One amendment that was brought would allow 18-year-olds to share their marijuana or allow parents in a home to share their marijuana. I am glad the government decided not to accept that one.

I am still concerned about the fact that there is even marijuana in the house. However, if that amendment was accepted it definitely would not have not been keeping marijuana out of the hands of young children.

One of the amendments that they did not accept had to do with the banning of promotional things like T-shirts, caps, and flags that would have a cannabis symbol on them. The government did not accept this amendment from the Senate. I am very concerned about that.

There are a lot of Canadians out there who are worried that when marijuana is legalized in Canada they are going to use Canada Day flags that have cannabis on them. Everybody will have a T-shirt with cannabis on it. That will be disgusting. It will absolutely denigrate our country and the people who have served our country and made Canada a proud country. It will deface that. The government has allowed people to continue to have that kind of paraphernalia by refusing the language here. It is total hypocrisy because under Bill S-228, which talks about prohibiting unhealthy advertising to children, we would not want to see pop or something like that on a T-shirt or a flag. However, with cannabis, it is okay. I am totally opposed to that.

Another thing that the government should have taken into account was the amendment that was brought on capping the potency of THC. We have heard reports from all over Canada, as people are increasingly trying marijuana for the first time or experiencing B.C. bud, which purportedly has one of the highest THC contents and a lot of potency, that people are presenting at the emergency wards with uncontrollable vomiting due to THC poisoning. Knowing that a part of the intent of this bill is to protect the health of Canadians and of youth, I cannot understand why the government would not recognize that there needs to be some control on the potency of things that are out in the marketplace.

Some of the amendments were compassionate and talked about giving people more time to pay their fines. I thought that was good that the government accepted those. I also thought it was good that they would, for young people, ages 12 to 17, who were experiencing an offence, look at ticketed offences, which is something that we would have supported, and restorative justice options.

If we look to countries that are doing the best job of intervening and helping people to get off drugs, look to Portugal. If anyone is found in possession of drugs there, they are given an intervention with a medical person, a psychiatrist, and a legal person. They then try to figure out what the root cause is of why these people are self-medicating or why are they becoming addicted, and what can be done to help get them off of it, in terms of mental health therapies or drug addiction therapies, etc. We need to look at this whole thing.

The other part that I think is unfortunate is that the indigenous people have not been adequately consulted. I was very disappointed to find that in September of last year, when we first heard at committee from Chief Day and from the Métis nation, they said they had not been adequately consulted. It is disheartening to hear that again when this went before the Senate, the same message came out that they had not been adequately consulted, and that they wanted to have the ability within their own communities to define whether or not cannabis would be allowed. Apparently under federal law, it was clarified to them that if it is a federal right of Canadians to possess cannabis, then it is not something that they would be able to go against. There was some resistance about that based on the sovereignty of the indigenous peoples. I think that was not resolved to their satisfaction.

It is worrisome that the government continues to rush ahead. It says that this is the most important relationship, the nation-to-nation relationship, yet it is willing to go and throw gasoline on a fire in terms of moving ahead when it has been asked not to do so.

Some of the other questions that arose at committee that really have not been adequately answered have to do with a lot of the detailed specifics about who is going to pay. Municipalities are saying there will be a cost to them to implement it, but they have not been included in the cost breakdown or the agreements that have happened. That is of concern. There have also been concerns raised by people who currently are consuming medical marijuana, and their understanding is that they are going to be paying tax on that.

Typically, in Canada, prescription medicines are not taxed. Therefore, as long as people have a prescription from a doctor for their medicinal marijuana, my expectation would be that it would not be taxed. However, that is not what the government is saying. Also, there is language in the budget bill that is a little suspicious, which states it would exempt people from paying tax on medicinal marijuana that has a drug identification number. The problem with that is that there are no medications that have a drug identification number because there are so many different components in marijuana that the companies have not been able to spend the research dollars required to characterize them or to effectively control the quality of them so that they could acquire a number like that. Therefore, that is a meaningless promise, for sure.

There were some amendments that were brought to bring this legislation in line with the tobacco legislation. I am in favour of having those things aligned. However, it seems unusual that the government would be spending $80 million to get people to stop smoking and then $800 million to get people to start smoking marijuana, especially when the Minister of Health just stood up and talked about how the government knows there are harmful effects.

One of the things I find very interesting, from a timing point of view, is that today Health Canada took the harmful impacts of cannabis off of its website. That was something that had been on the website. I had someone that brought it to my notice, and sent me a screenshot of what used to be there and a screenshot of what is not there now. It is very interesting that on the day that the Liberals want to see this legislation pass into law, it would suddenly take off of the website the information that shows there are harmful effects from cannabis not only to young people but also others.

Therefore, I would request that the government not hide things. Rather, it should try to be open and transparent, as it says it is always trying to be, and put that information back on the website. Every place that has legalized marijuana has said that one of the most important things to do is to invest in public education, and target that education not just to young people so that they understand the harmful effects this would have on their brains, but also to adults and parents who can influence young people, and the general public so that they can understand as well.

I am very concerned about some of the unintended consequences that will happen as a result of this legislation. I know there are people already smoking marijuana in Canada today. However, when it becomes legal, there will be many more who will decide to try it. They may not be informed about what the impact will be when they cross the border or what the impacts might be on their mental health or that of their children. They may not understand what the health impacts will be for them. They may not understand the ramifications with respect to their place of work and how they are going to impact both their employer and those who work around them.

That said, I am very opposed to the legalization of marijuana, which I have said on many occasions, not just because it is bad for people but because this bill has so many holes in it and so many unanswered questions, and there will be so many bad, unintended consequences for Canadians, that it will be left to the Conservative Party, when we come to victory in 2019, to clean up the mess made by the current government's moving forward in this rushed and irresponsible fashion to implement this bill.

This bill will absolutely not keep marijuana out of the hands of young children. It will not get organized crime out of this business. It will not unload our criminal justice system. It certainly will not provide access to a quality-controlled supply.

What we can expect is that on Canada Day there will be a lot of people out with their T-shirts on, totally insulting those Canadians who are proud of our country and who are not in agreement, and there are a lot of Canadians who are not in agreement with this legislation.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I want to begin by thanking the member opposite for her remarks and for her hard work on the health committee. Her opinions are always valued.

One thing that is clear, and that I have found there is an overwhelming consensus for right across the country, is that the current system of criminal prohibition is failing our communities and our kids terribly. We have the highest rates of cannabis use among children in the world. The entire production and distribution system of cannabis today in Canada is controlled by criminals. The products that our kids are exposed to are untested, unregulated, and unsafe. With respect to prohibition, I think there is a general acknowledgement that it simply does not work.

It is only by lifting that prohibition and replacing it with a comprehensive system of regulation for its production, distribution, and consumption that we have any opportunity to bring some control to a situation that is clearly out of control and damaging our communities and enriching criminals.

Therefore, I ask the member opposite what her intention would be. The next time your party may come into government, would you recriminalize this and reinstitute the prohibition after we have lifted it?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the member opposite is absolutely right that the situation today is not a good situation, but if Liberals had done what was prudent, they would have put in place a system like Washington state that actually reduced organized crime's involvement, raised the age to 21, and made it more difficult for people to get hold of marijuana.

In terms of what will happen in the future, I look forward to the day in 2019 when Conservatives are victorious and return to government. At that time, it will be like the toothpaste is out of the tube. There will be a big mess to clean up and a doubling of traffic deaths, which has been seen in every other jurisdiction. Public education has not been done by the government, after warnings from every jurisdiction that legalized marijuana. That is going to have to happen for people to understand the harms. However, by that time, there will be young people who have mental health issues, there will be traffic deaths, and all of the unintended consequences to property owners.