Cannabis Act

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

Sponsor

Status

Report stage (House), as of Nov. 9, 2017

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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 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

November 9th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's concern, but it is the biggest oxymoron I have ever heard. They obviously have not listened to what the Canadian public has said, and they are the ones bringing forward the licensing of recreational marijuana.

Why the rush? If they need more time, they have lots of it. They could do that and still put in place the proper analysis and training that police forces across Canada have asked for. The medical association has given them that background as well.

There are many reasons to take more time, such as those relayed by the nursing association and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which are going to have all of these costs dumped on them. This government is not going to make any money out of this process. In spite of that, the Liberals are trying to suggest to the public that they need this money to bail themselves out of their huge debts. The government is not going to make a cent on this because it will all be used up in enforcement and administration.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone here agrees that we all want to make Canada a safer place, and we all want our young people to be safer and healthier. However, I think we would also all agree that the situation as it stands is untenable.

I am just wondering what my Conservative colleagues are offering up as an alternative to this pathway to legalization of marijuana. What did they do in the previous 10 years that helped the situation, and what do they offer up for the future?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, of course, that is exactly what I am speaking of today. After listening to the people at the five town hall meetings and other events I attended throughout the summer in my riding, I felt it necessary to offer the plan that I did.

I even sent a letter to the parliamentary budget officer back in June, before the House rose for the summer, requesting all of the information around Bill C-45 and the enforcement bill, Bill C-46. I had many questions about how much money would be spent on enforcement, what would be needed for administration, and how it would be done. I had two pages of questions. We got back a reply from the parliamentary budget office that basically said that the government had the information but had not given it to them, and thus they could give none to me.

I find that atrocious. If the money to be made in this process is broadcast, and then the government is so ashamed of the results that it cannot even put out there what it will cost, including administratively, it shows that the government does not know what those costs are, that this process has been done too quickly without the necessary detail behind it, just like the government has done with its small business tax program.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to contribute to the debate on Bill C-45, which proposes to legalize recreational marijuana use here in Canada. The medicinal use of marijuana in Canada is, of course, already permitted when prescribed by a doctor, and I support that measure. However, what we are considering here today is the recreational use of marijuana, using drugs for fun.

The health committee, on which I serve, heard in September from more than 100 witnesses from across Canada and from all parts of the world. They presented their thoughts and their concerns on a number of issues related to the legalization of marijuana. We heard from many who literally called marijuana a miracle drug, a miracle antidote for relieving and in some cases eliminating conditions such as epileptic seizures, migraine headaches, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, arthritis, and I can go on. The testimony from these individuals was heartening.

Even hearing about the option for physicians to be able to prescribe marijuana instead of opioids such as OxyContin and fentanyl for treating chronic pain is enough to convince many that medicinal marijuana has a place in our society. However, Canada is now on the verge of normalizing recreational marijuana use, and we have heard a number of serious concerns from a variety of stakeholders.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at length on Bill C-46 and the issue of drug-impaired driving, so I will not reiterate what I said back then, but I will say that drug-impaired driving is of deep concern to many, and we heard that day in and day out at committee. I will focus on a couple of other serious concerns.

As we have heard many times, there are many studies that show marijuana does have a negative impact on the developing brain. The Canadian Medical Association, which represents 83,000 physicians in Canada, said:

Existing evidence on marijuana points to the importance of protecting the brain during its development. Since that development is only finalized by about 25 years of age, this would be an ideal minimum age based on currently accepted scientific evidence...

Last month at the World Psychiatric Association's world congress in Berlin, the community was presented with further evidence that marijuana use by youth can facilitate the onset of schizophrenia and other psychosis conditions in certain people. Complications may include cognitive impairment, social isolation, and even suicide.

These are the doctors who are talking. These are the physicians, the scientists, and the health care providers who are saying this. The reality is that not all our youth are aware of this body of scientific research and so they are not making informed decisions when it comes to marijuana drug use, and that has to change. It is imperative that we inform our young people that using this drug, marijuana, will likely have serious, permanent, and negative effects on their brain and their mental health.

Without question, the largest single concern that we heard at the health committee is the Liberal government's complete failure to properly execute a public education campaign.

In just eight months, we will most likely have marijuana for sale as a fun recreational drug. Is that not great? Witnesses testified that, if we are going to achieve the primary results we want—and that is to reduce marijuana use and lower youth consumption—then we need to educate Canadians well in advance of the proposed July 1, 2018, legalization timeline set by the Liberal government. Unfortunately, there has been no real education campaign started by the government, and time is running out.

It has not gone unnoticed that we are spending a great deal of time and money to legalize marijuana, but very little time and money on a public education campaign. An immediate public education plan is critical. The Liberal government claims it has committed $46 million to a plan, but I have not seen it in my community. I have talked to health care people in my community, and they have not seen a dime of that.

Even the former Liberal cabinet minister and head of the task force on cannabis, the Honourable Anne McLellan, said at committee:

I think the most important part of prevention, which we have learned from tobacco, alcohol, and probably some other things—I might include gambling—is public education. That's the lesson you hear over and over again in states like Colorado and Washington. You have to have robust public education, and you need it out of the box early.

Not a single witness in committee advocated against an early and intense public education campaign, so why is the Liberal government not starting now with an education campaign?

Another serious concern that was brought forward in committee is the impact the proposed legislation would have on Canada in the eyes of the world. We heard in committee that there are three United Nations international treaties that we are bound to violate if this legislation is passed.

We heard great testimony from Dr. Steven Hoffman, who is a professor law at the prestigious Osgoode Hall Law School. He is also an expert in international law. He is very concerned, as are we Conservatives, that Bill C-45 would in fact violate international laws. The United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 is one of the three major UN drug control treaties currently in force that we as a nation have signed onto and committed to. The treaty provides additional legal mechanisms for enforcing the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which is to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use, and possession of drugs.

The passing of Bill C-45 would put us in contravention of these three UN international agreements. The Liberal government has failed to tell Canadians how it will handle the situation. It should tell us, but it has refused to. As Dr. Hoffman said:

I really would love to emphasize that the consequences actually are quite severe in the sense that it's not just our reputation. It's not just Canada's standing on the global international scene. If we violate international law we are actually undermining the best mechanism we have to get countries to work together and solve some of the biggest challenges we face in the world. One only needs to think about examples like serious use of chemical weapons, or North Korea testing nuclear weapons, or even closer to home, the United States imposing illegal trade barriers against softwood lumber. Canada wants to be in a position that we are able to rely on our fellow countries, our partners around the world, to follow these rules that make Canadians safer, that make Canadian businesses prosper, yet it's very difficult for Canada to be taking moral stances on international laws if Canada is also violating them.

We are not ready as a nation to rush into marijuana legalization, and the consequences will be severe.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:40 p.m.
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Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's concern for education. We are taking a public safety approach with Bill C-45, with $240 million to support law enforcement to detect and deter drug-impaired driving, $161 invested in training front-line officers, another $81 million for provinces and territories, and $46 million for a public awareness campaign. Does he not agree that this is a comprehensive approach to providing education and training?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the investment, because we need it, and law enforcement agencies need it. They told us at committee that they welcome the money but they need time, and they do not have enough time. July 1 is eight months away. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and numerous associations around the country are thankful for the money but they need time.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the hon. member for Calgary Confederation for all the work he has done on this issue. He has been a shining star in our party and on the health committee for a couple of years.

Canadians will be facing a very serious situation in the next eight months.

I was a trustee for 10 years. There has been no dialogue with the government. It has not reached out to the Canadian School Boards Association. It has not reached out to one province or territory with respect to how it is going to deal with 12-year-olds bringing five grams to school in their pockets. The government has not reached out to teachers' associations in this country, and yet we are eight months away.

The Liberals have a simple answer. They are going to throw some money at it and leave the decisions to others. There is no game plan.

I thank the hon. member for Calgary Confederation for bringing this up. Education is first and foremost.

I ask my colleague how he thinks the government should deal with this, other than throwing money at it, which is two years too late.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood for his kind comments. They are much appreciated.

I am very passionate about this issue, as many of us are here in the House.

I have a background in education. My family runs a private school in Calgary, the Webber Academy. There are more than 1,000 children in our school. We care about these children. We care about informing them and educating them about the harmful effects of marijuana, yet it is not happening in the school system. It is not in the curriculum. If it is, it is not enough.

The public education plan that we need should have happened two years ago in anticipation of this bill passing by July 1. It is too late. By the time the government legislates the bill into place, marijuana will be on the streets, with uneducated children throughout the country unaware of the harmful effects of this drug.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, my friend just mentioned harms. Three thousand Canadians are born every year with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. That is 3,000 Canadians and just one issue. That is not counting drunk driving. That is not counting domestic abuse. That is not counting rape and sexual assault, including on campuses, and all of the harms that come from alcohol.

Perhaps the member could explain to me why he thinks cannabis, according to the evidence, is more harmful than alcohol. Why does he think we ought to throw young Canadians in jail for having a joint, but it is okay to allow glossy flyers to come to my doorstep advertising alcohol?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

It is well known, Mr. Speaker. Testimony given by the Canadian Medical Association stated all about the very harmful effects marijuana has on the developing brains of youth. We all know that.

If we smoke marijuana during the brain development period between zero and 25 years of age, we are highly susceptible to conditions that could occur. I am talking about the recreational use of marijuana. It will create a lot of problems for the mental health of children at this age.

There is clear scientific evidence that marijuana causes schizophrenia in individuals with a developing brain. Schizophrenia has been blamed for many—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and very proud to represent the people of Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

When I was elected, I started touring my riding. In the spring, I visited our schools to explain what the Government of Canada was, the way it worked, and the process of passing a bill. Since at that time the Liberal Party had already introduced the possibility of passing a bill to legalize marijuana, that was the example of a bill that I used. We already had an idea of what this bill was, and I spoke about it openly, mostly to primary and secondary school students, as well as CEGEP students.

At some of these meetings I led in 10 different schools, I talked to 300 students between the ages of 12 and16 in an auditorium. I presented them the bill as it was written. I explained to them that it legalized the production of marijuana at home, among other things, and that it did not contain meaningful provisions addressing drug-impaired driving. In short, by discussing the various elements of the bill, I asked the students to tell me, by raising their hand, if they agreed with the legalization of marijuana.

To my amazement, 80% of the young people in my riding raised their hands to say they did not agree. These were not seniors in homes, these were students. I was stunned because I thought that the Prime Minister's sunny ways would have encouraged open-mindedness and the liberalization of pretty much everything. However, these young people unequivocally showed me that they did not at all agree with legalizing marijuana, for all kinds of reasons. This also gave us more opportunities for discussion.

That said, I was also able to meet with groups of seniors, including members of all the senior citizen clubs in my riding, and some groups of farm women. These women do a lot of work with young people, since they train them for all kinds of trades. All these groups are in daily contact with young people. They also told me unequivocally that they oppose the legalization of marijuana.

I have no words to describe the government’s level of hypocrisy with this bill, which would be in violation of three international treaties, among other things. The government claims to respect the UN and to abide by international treaties. It says that it works all over the world and that it has taken all sorts of steps to ensure international consistency, and yet this bill is in violation of three major international treaties on drug control. Apparently, that is no big deal.

Also, the Liberals keep on boasting that their actions are based on science and the facts. That is what they have been telling us non stop for the past two years, and yet, the science is quite clear—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is very good of you.

Obviously, the party across the aisle does not want to listen to what we have to say. There were studies in committee; we were asked to propose amendments. The NDP proposed 36 amendments, all of which were rejected, one after the other. The Liberals are calling us out for not proposing any amendments, but what is the point of doing so when we know that the bill is going to stay the way it is?

Here is another example of the absolute hypocrisy of this bill. It mentions the cultivation of four marijuana plants at home. I raised my children at home, and they are raising their children at home. I am trying to imagine having four marijuana plants at home and explaining to the children that they are not to touch them. That would be really confusing for them. It is total hypocrisy. How can we protect children when people can grow marijuana at home?

When you do the math, people looking to really maximize their yield can grow quite a lot of marijuana in six weeks with four plants. I did the math, but I do not have the exact figures with me. However, it takes about six to eight weeks. Imagine that over 52 weeks. There can be many harvests over the course of a year, which holds tremendous financial potential. I can just imagine young children at home helping their parents water the pot plants because they want to sell them later on. That is obvious. Can we be so blind as to think that young people will not help themselves directly from the plants at home?

The other concern is that we keep hearing that this will reduce organized crime. I have a report from Colorado, where marijuana was legalized four years ago. There has been an increase in organized crime. There is a reason why it is called organized crime. These people are able to react and adapt to situations like these. Legalizing marijuana will increase organized criminal activity, not decrease it.

Worse still, this bill does not deal with cannabis derivatives at all. In Colorado, these derivatives are now more profitable for the government in terms of sales and taxes, than the sale of marijuana itself. What are we going to do in Canada? People have already started asking me if they will have access to derivatives. Will they be sold in the equivalent of SAQ in Quebec and LCBO in Ontario? If employees are making $25 an hour, what will be the price of the marijuana? I can understand that the quality would perhaps be the same across Canada, but the reality is that organized crime will only increase the rate of THC in the marijuana and drop its prices. It will not stop selling it. It will increase its sales, even. This is the reality. This is what could happen.

We have talked about training and information. This is ridiculous. The Liberals are barely allocating any funds, only $40 million over a five-year period. They have just invested $500 million in an infrastructure bank in China. This money was spent outside of Canada. They should have invested it here for training and prevention. This is not what is happening at all. An investment of $40 million for the whole country is peanuts for prevention.

The Liberals accepted not a single amendment. We proposed only one, which aimed to scrap the bill and start again from scratch. The problem is that the government across the way does not listen to us at all. The Liberals gave no consideration to the NDP's 38 proposed amendments. I am certain NDP MPs came up with some very well thought out amendments to improve the bill. The Liberals thinks that they know everything on that. I cannot believe it.

People can hear us and see us from the gallery. I am convinced that not all of them are in favour of legalizing marijuana. In my riding, 80% of the people who responded to a survey said they were opposed to legalization. Our government does not listen at all; it just says everything will be fine and we should proceed.

I could talk about this issue for hours. Once again, the government is being completely hypocritical on this issue.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 3:15 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

Mr. Speaker, when I look at Bill C-45, for me, personally, it is saying that we need to do what we can for our children. I hear a lot of the arguments from the Conservative benches that under the new law, somehow our children would be worse off, not recognizing that Canada already has the highest participation of youth in the consumption of cannabis in the world. A big part of that driving force is the criminal element. Criminals realize that they can sell and profit by selling to our kids. Would my colleague not at the very least concede that for criminals, it is a viable option to make money by selling to minors? That is something that is happening today.

This is a step in the right direction to deal with crime and deal with young people and the issue of cannabis and marijuana.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear my colleague's question. In the 1980s, we introduced the GST and the Liberals were adamant that they would eliminate it as quickly as possible. Quite the opposite happened and, even worse, they increased this tax several times. It was lowered again under Mr. Harper.

In reality, the government is now proposing a tax on a good that will be sold to young people. Not only are they taxing all Canadians, they are taxing young people. The goal is to collect money to pay off the Liberal deficit at the expense of young people. That is what they are doing.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want my colleague to address something we have heard over and over, and that is the deceitful approach I see in bringing this to Canadians. The Liberals have said that the status quo is not working. I would like to cite a study from the Canadian community health survey, mental health, from 2015. It said that for teens aged 15 to 17, which is the target group, they have lowered marijuana use from 40% to 25%. In other words, the status quo lowered it by 15%.

The Liberals say that they want to keep this out of the hands of children and keep it out of the hands of organized crime. Experts at committee said this bill would not do that.

Could the member comment on the deceptive nature of the Liberals? They are telling Canadians one thing, when they know that the facts do not support this bill.