Cannabis Act

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

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Nov. 30, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-45.

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

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

November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, earlier this week, I voted to remove from Bill C-45 the provision in clause 9 that would penalize someone who, for example, passes a joint, at a party, to someone who turns out to be under the age of 19. Right now, in the legislation, it is a 14-year penalty for what is called non-commercial cannabis trafficking.

Does the member share my concern that people in the public may not be aware that this is a severe penalty for something that could well be an accident and that, given that the government has closed down debate, this cannot be fully aired?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not believe anyone in the House agrees with the member that it is the intention of that clause or the legislation to put an individual at a house party in jail for 14 years for unfortunately passing a joint off to someone who is younger than anticipated. That is not the way any legislation works.

I ask the member to reconsider making those kinds of comments in public, when in fact, that is not the way the law will read.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, the expressions “hit a wall“ and “hit bottom” best describe the current situation with cannabis and its status as an illegal substance. Nothing, including the status quo, will improve the situation.

Firstly, we are not condoning the use of this product. Personally, I am against using cannabis. However, I have the privilege of leading consultations in Quebec on legalizing a product that does not concern me in the least, since I do not use it, but that causes problems for me. This may be an extremely difficult decision, but it is necessary. We have to show the public that we take this issue seriously and ensure through our colleagues' efforts that the way in which marijuana is legalized is reassuring to the public, better contains the problem, and better manages the future with regard to cannabis use.

The consultations generally focused on these same problems, and people's concerns were heard loud and clear. In addition to listening to them, we asked people to continue to bring forward their concerns on the issue, because together we can monitor and follow the trend for consumption of the product in order to achieve the intended result. What was illegal for those under 18 before legalization will continue to be illegal afterwards. What was harmful to health will not suddenly become a healthy habit after the product is legalized. Fortunately, the file is in the hands of the Minister of Health, who will ensure that this product is controlled to avoid problems we currently experience when people use products purchased on the black market. They have no idea of what they are consuming.

In view of the current problems with public health and organized crime stemming from the sale of cannabis, a government's failure to act would be tantamount to an offence, a reflection of its lack of responsibility. Maintaining the status quo will only ensure the worst results, the worst consequences, and a loss of control, which we must mitigate as much as possible.

Let us be realistic. In my previous life, I had the opportunity to work on cases involving organized crime. We are not deluding ourselves. We know that organized crime also deals in legal substances, substances that can legally be sold, and that it will not completely disappear when this bill is passed. Getting around the law is what organized crime does, and it is the job of our police forces, intelligence agencies, and government bodies to ensure that the activities of these criminal organizations are thwarted as much as possible.

Fortunately, the legalization of such a substance will ensure that law enforcement can focus its efforts on what matters most, for example, the unacceptable presence of organized crime in schoolyards. All a person has to do is ask a child under the age of 18 for some cannabis to understand that this is real problem. During the consultations, young people told us that it would only take them about 15 minutes to get some. That is scary. This drug is so accessible that we need to focus our efforts where they will count the most.

Naturally, legalizing cannabis does not just mean making the product accessible and legal. Although it is true that this will improve the situation, relieving some of the pressure on the justice system remains a secondary objective. It is very clear that the primary objective has to do with health. People are putting their lives at risk by taking a product whose ingredients they know nothing about. This is a situation that needs to be fixed.

The approach to organized crime is also clear. Organized crime is making significant profits that fuel money laundering and are also used to fund other types of criminal activity.

We need tools to curb this type of activity as much as possible and clean up the culture associated with this product. It is true that we have heard that taking illegal drugs is cool and gives the user a certain status and cachet among peers. We must discourage this kind of misinformed thought process. Changing the culture will require clear and unequivocal government involvement in education, training, and prevention.

It is too bad that some members of the party opposite say that we are doing nothing about prevention until after marijuana is legalized. The consultations that I attended and had the pleasure of leading tell a different story. Community intervention groups have already been clearly identified and are doing tremendous work.

Unfortunately, Canada has the highest percentage of cannabis users in the world, simply because the product is illegal. Furthermore, it is estimated that 30% of Canadians aged 18 to 25 use cannabis. In some regions, including the northern suburbs of Montreal, Quebec's health department puts that figure at over 40%. We are the champions of using an illegal product. There are many competitions that I want to win, but this is not one of them.

The supposed deterrent messages about prison sentences have failed, and maintaining the status quo would be inconceivable. The government is therefore seeking both to legalize the product and to allocate the necessary funds and resources for training and prevention.

Prevention is already happening, and we will step up our efforts because that is what we, as a reasonable government making an admittedly extremely difficult decision, committed to doing. This is a monumental challenge related to an extremely sensitive issue, but this decision had to be made. There will never be a perfect time when we can say that all of the elements are in place and we can go ahead with legalization. In fact, we are way behind.

The government's decision will have serious consequences, but it will truly be good for our communities. The government will oversee the process and will be able to anticipate outcomes. Unlike the members opposite, I will make no predictions based on speculation or clairvoyance, but I will say that based on our objectives, we can expect results similar to the experiences and best practices of other countries that have gone down this path and succeeded in reducing marijuana consumption.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his presentation.

How can he say that the use of marijuana is a problem that affects our young people because they can access it in 15 minutes, and then turn around and say that the distribution points will increase, so young people will be able to get it at the local pharmacy? There is an inconsistency here.

Why does this government not pass laws and make investments that will eliminate organized crime and encourage young people to play sports, participate in arts and culture activities, or at the very least get involved in the many organizations in our ridings?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising this important question. Unfortunately, his reasoning is faulty. The fact that legal distribution centres will be open does not necessarily mean that people will consume more marijuana. They already consume more than anywhere else in the world.

The bill clearly makes it illegal to sell cannabis to young people, to use young people to purchase cannabis, and to sell cannabis through young people. What was illegal will remain illegal. It is false to state that young people have greater access to a product once it becomes legal. They cannot purchase alcohol or cigarettes, even though there is no shortage of distribution points. Reality shows that we are on the right track.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I raised this earlier to both the health minister and the member for Kenora, that the government brought in time allocation on the same day that the provinces raised concerns about them not being prepared to take this on.

This member's own province has raised concerns about the timeline that is being imposed on them. The member for Kenora is saying, “Trust us. Trust us. We are going to get it right.” Trust is not built by ending debate, by taking away the opportunity to have a conversation and get it right. That is not how trust is built.

Could the member speak to us about why the government is putting through time allocation and limiting debate on an issue when his own province has raised concerns that they are being rushed to prepare to take this on?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, I think that the time allocation motion is being misconstrued.

Everyone was well aware of our intentions even before we took office. As soon as we were elected, we put all of our cards on the table and everyone knew that we were going to legalize marijuana.

We held consultations, and since we are talking about my province, I will mention that I even had the pleasure of discussing the timeframe with the provincial minister, who confirmed that the Quebec health department was in touch with Health Canada on a weekly basis.

I know that other provinces are already ready and that licences have already been issued. When we took office, people made the necessary preparations, as we have; we will be ready.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, thank you for being so generous and giving me two minutes to speak to such an important bill today. I have heard a lot on it before, and my observation with respect to this is that the government has created a monster and a problem that, as a business case, takes with it all of the risks.

Funnily enough, the government is congratulating itself over the good results that this bill will generate while disregarding the opinions of the people, the parents, the municipalities, the police forces, all the stakeholders across the country, the public opinions from the consultations that had not been properly done, and not allowing the bill to go to committee to be studied properly. All of that has not been taken into consideration whatsoever by the government on such an important bill.

Therefore, the only sign that this is an important bill is that we see the government trying to thank itself for how good a job it has done. However, it should at least pay attention to the public and make sure that people understand it. It should make sure that people are asked questions and that it hears their concerns. There are a large number of problems and concerns out there that people are talking about, to which the government has unfortunately turned a deaf ear.

If we were to list the number of issues and concerns, instead of two minutes, we would need hours to express ourselves properly, to ensure that what Canadians will get out of this bill is not something as harmful, as unfair, and as much of a risk as it presently is for families and people. Therefore, if I have 20 seconds, I would like to list the following problems: impaired driving; easy and direct pot access for children and youth; health impacts on brain development to youth under 25 years of age; health impacts to heavy users, such as addiction; keeping drugs away from children and youth, especially home-grown plants and edibles; and, workplace health and safety.

These are major problems. I hope the government will come to the realization that it should give this time. Otherwise, we are looking at a disaster.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-45.

On October 13, I introduced two pieces of important legislation in the House of Commons. First, Bill C-45 proposes a framework for legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis in Canada. The second complementary piece of legislation, Bill C-46, proposes new and stronger laws to more seriously tackle alcohol and drug-impaired driving, including cannabis. I am proud to note that Bill C-46 has been passed by the House and is being studied in the other place.

I am pleased to speak again today about Bill C-45 and discuss some of the amendments that were carried during the Standing Committee on Health's extensive study of the bill. I would like to thank all committee members for their considerable amount of work on this file. The committee reviewed 115 briefs and heard from nearly 100 different witnesses, who provided their invaluable perspectives on a wide array of issues, ranging from law enforcement to public health.

Groups represented at committee included the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Criminal Lawyers' Association, the Métis National Council, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Officials from Colorado and Washington state also provided testimony on their states' experience in the legalization of cannabis.

After hearing from the witnesses, several amendments were proposed at clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. I will speak to some of these worthwhile amendments in a moment, but first I would like to remind members what Bill C-45 is all about.

Bill C-45 would create a legal framework whereby adults would be able to access legal cannabis through an appropriate retail framework sourced from a well-regulated industry or grown in limited amounts at home. Under the proposed legislation, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments will all share in responsibility for overseeing the new system. The federal government will oversee the production and manufacturing components of the cannabis framework and set industry-wide rules and standards.

To that end, our fall economic statement of 2017 has earmarked $526 million of funding to license, inspect, and enforce all aspects of the proposed cannabis act. Provincial and territorial governments will in turn be responsible for the distribution and sale components of the framework.

Beyond the legislative framework outlining the rules for production, retail sale, distribution, and possession, cannabis will remain a strictly prohibited substance.

Division 1 of part 1 of the proposed act clearly sets out that many of the offences that currently apply to cannabis under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act will continue to exist under the proposed cannabis act. This is very much in keeping with the recommendations contained in the final report of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation.

In its report, the task force recommended that criminal offences should be maintained for illicit production, trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking, possession for the purposes of export, and import/export.

I will now speak to the amendments adopted by the committee. Let me begin by saying that our government supports all the amendments adopted by the Standing Committee on Health. At this time, I would like to speak about five specific amendments that were adopted during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45.

First, the height restriction for cannabis plants permitted to be grown at home was eliminated. The 100-centimetre height restriction was intended to balance the interest to allow personal cultivation while safeguarding against the known risks associated with large plants, including the risk of diversion outside of the licit regime. The height restriction, indeed the proposal to allow even limited personal cultivation, attracted significant commentary both before the health committee and in the general public.

We understand the complexities leading to the task force's recommendation of a 100-centimetre height limit and accept the health committee's conclusion after it listened to several witnesses about the problems that such a limit might realistically create.

Our government agrees that this issue is best addressed outside of the criminal law. Should they wish, provinces and territories. relying on their own legislative powers. could address plant heights and if legislative authority exists or is extended to municipalities, they could do so as well.

Second, the addition of the good Samaritan provision will exempt individuals from criminal charges for simple possession if they call medical services or law enforcement following a life threatening medical emergency involving a psychoactive substance. Evidence demonstrates that individuals experiencing or witnessing an overdose or an acute medical condition are often afraid to call emergency assistance due to the fear of prosecution. A good Samaritan clause in the proposed cannabis act will help to ensure that individuals contact and co-operate with emergency services in the context of a medical emergency, knowing that they will not face prosecution for minor possession offences.

Third, the amendments to the Non-smokers' Health Act, provides flexibility to prohibit the smoking or vaping of tobacco or cannabis in specific outdoor areas or spaces by regulation in federal workplaces to protect people from exposure to tobacco or cannabis smoke. This aligns with the recommendation by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Fourth, courts will have the discretion of imposing a fine of up to $200 for an accused convicted of a ticketable offence rather than imposing a fixed fine in the amount of $200. This will ensure that the courts can consider a range of factors in setting the fine, including the ability of the accused to pay the fine.

Finally, an amendment was adopted to require a review of the proposed cannabis act three years after its coming into force and to table a report in Parliament on the results of this review.

Given the transformative nature of the proposed legislation, it is important that our government clearly communicates to Parliament and to the Canadian public the impact the legislation will have on achieving our objectives of protecting youth and reducing the role of organized crime. This will enable us as parliamentarians to determine whether future changes to the legislation are necessary to help ensure the protection of public health and safety.

I will now speak to the significant discussion that has occurred in relation to the treatment of young persons under the proposed cannabis act.

On the one hand, the Standing Committee on Health heard from witnesses, including criminal defence lawyers and the Canadian Nurses Association, who argued that youth possession of cannabis should not be subject to criminal penalties, because making it a criminal offence for a youth to possess five grams of cannabis would not deter them from possessing. It would only serve to perpetuate the disproportionate enforcement of laws on young, marginalized, and racialized members of our society.

On the other hand, others, including opposition members, have called for a zero tolerance in relation to the possession of cannabis by youth. Our government is mindful of the concerns raised in relation to the exemption of young persons from criminal prosecution for possession or sharing of up to five grams of cannabis and the suggestion that this decision is sending the wrong message to youth.

As I discussed at my appearance before the committee, our government has drafted Bill C-45 to specifically ensure that there are no legal means for a young person to purchase or acquire cannabis. Young persons should not have access to any amount of cannabis.

At the same time, criminalizing youth for possessing or sharing very small amounts of cannabis recognizes the negative impacts that exposure to the criminal justice system can have on our young people, particularly marginalized young persons.

Our focus aligns with what the majority of respondents conveyed to the task force; that criminal sanctions should be focused on adults who provide cannabis to youth, not on the youth themselves. This does not mean that our government sees youth possession or consumption of cannabis as acceptable. Our government has given much thought as to how we will keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and discourage them from using cannabis at all.

Our government has been encouraging the provinces and territories to create administrative offences that would prohibit youth from possessing any amounts of cannabis without exposing them to the criminal justice system. Police would be given authority to seize cannabis from youth with small amounts. Provinces and territories use this measured approach for alcohol and tobacco possession by young persons, and it has proven to be successful. We were pleased to hear that Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta have already announced their plans to create just such prohibitions, and we expect other jurisdictions to follow suit.

This approach is complemented by the other significant protections for youth in Bill C-45. The proposed act creates new offences for those adults who either sell or distribute cannabis to youth, or who use a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence. It protects young people from promotional enticements to use cannabis, prohibits cannabis product packaging or labelling that are appealing to youth, and prohibits the sale of cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines.

In addition to these legislative mechanisms, I would also like to remind members that our government will be undertaking a broad public education campaign to inform Canadians of all ages about the proposed legislation, including penalties for providing cannabis to youth and the risks involved with consuming cannabis. This public education campaign will focus on helping young Canadians make the best choices about their future and to understand the risks and consequences of using cannabis. This public education and awareness campaign has already begun, and it will continue to be an ongoing priority. To that end, last month our government announced $36.4 million over five years in funding for public education and awareness. This is in addition to the $9.6 million over five years toward a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign, and surveillance activities that we announced in budget 2017.

I will now turn to the implementation and timing of Bill C-45. Much has been conveyed about the timing of the implementation of the proposed cannabis act, with the suggestion being made that provinces and territories will not be ready, or that law enforcement will not be ready. Several witnesses at committee, however, rightfully pointed out that we need to act now. The Canadian Public Health Association responded to claims that we are not ready for legalization by advising the committee of the following:

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of time, as Canadians are already consuming cannabis at record levels. The individual and societal harms associated with cannabis use are already being felt every day. The proposed legislation and eventual regulation is our best attempt to minimize those harms and protect the well-being of all Canadians.

Witnesses at committee further pointed out that there is always a perception that more time is needed, but that any delays would contribute to confusion among the population.

Our government agrees that we need to act now, and we have been working closely with provinces and territories on many fronts, including through a federal-provincial-territorial senior officials working group. The working group has been kept apprised of developments on this file over the last year through meetings via teleconference every three weeks, as well as in-person meetings. Most recently, a meeting took place here in Ottawa on October 17 and 18.

Since the introduction of Bill C-45, several federal-provincial-territorial issue-specific working groups have also been established to collaborate more closely on a range of complex issues, including drug-impaired driving, ticketable offences, taxation, and public education.

Our government recognizes that providing support to provinces and territories for this work is critical. That is why we have committed, for instance, up to $81 million specifically to the provinces and territories to train front-line officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of impaired driving, build law enforcement capacity across the country, and provide access to drug screening devices.

Our government is encouraged by the tremendous amount of work that has already been carried out in the provinces and territories. Many jurisdictions committed to and have completed public consultations on how cannabis legalization should be implemented.

Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Alberta have released proposed legislation and frameworks describing how they will approach recreational cannabis, and Manitoba has enacted the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act. Clearly, many provinces are moving forward in anticipation of the July 2018 time frame.

Recognizing that some provinces and territories may not have systems in place by the summer of 2018, our government is proposing to facilitate interim access to a regulated quality controlled supply from a federally licensed producer via online ordering, with secure home delivery through mail or courier.

Our government's intention is to offset the broader costs associated with implementing this new system by collecting licensing and other fees, as well as through revenues generated through taxation, as is the case with the tobacco and alcohol industry. Discussions with provinces and territories around the proposed taxation plan have already begun and will continue. As part of our consultations on this matter, we welcome the feedback of all Canadians to ensure that we achieve the goal of keeping prices low enough to put criminals out of business while helping to offset the costs of education, administration, and enforcement.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that Canada's current approach to cannabis continues to contribute to the profits of organized crime, risks to public health and safety, and exposes thousands of Canadians to criminal records for minor cannabis offences each year. Most Canadians no longer believe that simple possession of small amounts of cannabis should be subjected to harsh criminal sanctions. I would like to conclude by encouraging all members of this House to support Bill C-45, as amended by the Standing Committee on Health.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Mr. Speaker, I sit on the health committee along with a number of other wonderful people, and we do some good work. We listened to many presenters on this bill at committee, one in particular being Professor Steven Hoffman, an expert in international law who teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School. He is very concerned about Bill C-45 being passed and violating three United Nations treaties that Canada signed onto years ago. This particular bill would violate those three treaties.

How does the minister plan to deal with the United Nations and our international friends when this bill is passed?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of the committee for their substantive work on Bill C-45. As I have said with respect to this bill, protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority of our government. That is why we are taking a careful regulatory approach to cannabis legalization.

Our officials have been very open, honest, and reflective in embracing discussions from across the country and throughout the world. We have been working actively with international experts, including the United Nations, to determine the best course forward on our international commitments. I want to remind the members of this House that eight American states, including the District of Columbia, have already decided to legalize recreational marijuana. We are committed to ensuring that we continue to work with our global partners to best promote public health and combat illicit drug trafficking.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has acknowledged from the beginning the devastating impacts that criminalization of simple cannabis possession and usage has had on Canadians. In fact, the government knows that those impacts have been particularly damaging for marginalized Canadians, such as the young, racialized, indigenous, and poor. Yet one of the ironies is that this legislation maintains that criminalized prohibitionist approach. Any Canadian caught with 31 grams of cannabis in public, who grows five plants, or is an 18-year-old in Alberta selling to a 17-year-old faces criminal prosecution, conviction, and penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

She is the Minister of Justice and knows there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who carry criminal convictions today that have devastated their lives in many respects. What plans does she have, as the Minister of Justice, for granting those Canadians pardons for engaging in activities that, come next July, will be entirely legal in this country?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-45, as all members of the House have heard me state before, and what we are committed to, is legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis to keep it out of the hands of young people, and the proceeds of its sale out of the hands of criminals. As I have stated many times, simply decriminalizing it at this point would not assist us in achieving those objectives.

What I have been doing, and what I am committed to continue to do, is to work with my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety. We have recognized that over-criminalization of the possession of small amounts of cannabis is something that needs to be addressed. We have sought to address this in Bill C-45. Again, in conversations with the Minister of Public Safety, we are considering how we can approach record suspensions.

However, our focus right now is to change the status quo to ensure that we put in place a comprehensive framework for the legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis by young people.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 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, first, I must commend not only the lead minister but also the other departments that engaged in making this proposed legislation possible. In particular, there was a fairly lengthy process that ensured that Canadians were thoroughly consulted.

For me, representing Winnipeg North, one of the biggest benefits I see from this proposed legislation will be its impact on the criminal activities of gang members, and so forth, who go into our schools and sell cannabis to 12, 14, or 15 year olds. This proposed legislation is a step in the right direction, as it would minimize the damage caused to young people and, at the same time, literally take hundreds of millions of dollars away from criminal gangs, and so forth.

Could the minister comment either on what it took to get the legislation before us today, or on the criminal aspect?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my comments, the status quo simply is not working. Our government has been committed to the legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis from day one.

To the first part of the question, we have engaged in extensive consultations to ensure that we heard from Canadians right across the country. The first step we took, a vitally important step, was to engage a task force on cannabis. The task force consisted of experts in justice, public health and safety, and law enforcement. This task force was led by the hon. Anne McLellan, and it provided us with substantive recommendations. Most of those recommendations are contained in Bill C-45. The task force received 30,000 submissions from Canadians across the country.

We introduced Bill C-45 and have continued throughout to engage with provinces and territories, municipalities, and indigenous communities and indigenous governments. We will continue to do that as we move towards July 2018 to ensure that we have a substantive, comprehensive framework for the legalization of cannabis in this country.