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

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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

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 1st, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question and for her support of public education as part of a public health approach to substance use. In fact, we have lots of good evidence from other substances of how important public health education is. We look at something like tobacco use. There used to be extremely high rates of tobacco use, and they are now much lower because of public education.

As she acknowledged, we have put $9.6 million in the budget to advance public education. We have already begun our campaigns of public education, and those will continue to advance. We will continue to resource this over time and continue to make sure we do so. I have to acknowledge as well that the federal government is not the only partner in the business of public education. Of course, we are working with our provincial and territorial colleagues. We are working with ministers of education at other levels of government as well and with municipalities. This will require all levels of government, and in fact all levels of society, to work together.

I can assure the member that we will work in concert with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other federal partners to enhance education.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by not only thanking the minister for her speech but for her extraordinary leadership on this file, and so many other matters of government. She brings a wealth of experience but also values that have enhanced the government's approach.

I reflected, as I listened to the questions and earlier comments by the members opposite, about this concern and suggestion that we should prohibit anyone under the age of 25 from having legal access to this regulated substance. I reflected on my life before I was 25. Before I was 25, I was married. I was the father of two kids by then. I owned a house. I had a mortgage. I was a cop. I carried a gun. I was entrusted with all the powers of a police officer, including the authority to restrict a person's liberty and to use force, perhaps even deadly force. I could buy a drink, and I could smoke a cigarette. That was how I was trusted, yet the members opposite suggest that Canadians between the ages of 18 and 25, who are adults, could not be trusted to make an informed choice about their own health.

Therefore, I would like to ask the minister if she could reflect on the public health lens she has advocated for and brought forward to this important bill.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must return gratitude to the member for his tremendous work on this file. He has been going across this country to talk to people about this issue, and we are indebted to him for his work.

This a conversation that I have had with him in the past about the approach, particularly for young adults. They are such an important group when we are thinking about the work of this bill. I would remind him again about something like tobacco. There is no young person in this country who should consume tobacco. Yesterday was World No Tobacco Day. We know that it will kill one in two regular users of tobacco, but there is no one proposing that we criminalize the use of tobacco by young adults.

We know that a public health approach means to maximize education and minimize harm. As the member indicated, adults are mature people who are able to take risks into consideration. We know that as they become educated on who may or may not be more at risk for use of cannabis, in fact they will make informed decisions, and they will be able to make those decisions in a way that will reduce and minimize the harms associated with these substances.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on Bill C-45, the government's legislation to legalize marijuana. Without more, Bill C-45 raises more questions than answers. The government has yet to explain how legalization is going to make it safe for our kids, safe for motorists, and frankly safe for all Canadians.

One of the arguments that the government has put forward is that somehow the legalization of marijuana is going to keep it out of the hands of our kids. Let us think about that for a minute. The government wants to keep marijuana out of the hands of our kids. So far so good. I think any decent reasonable Canadian would want to keep marijuana out of the hands of our kids. Therefore, what is it proposing to do? It is proposing to legalize marijuana, normalize marijuana, to see the proliferation of marijuana everywhere. That is somehow going to keep it out of the hands of our kids. It seems to be a whole lot of hazy logic to come up with the assessment that somehow legalizing marijuana is going to keep it out of the hands of our kids. One need only look at the state of Colorado to see that legalizing marijuana does not keep it out of the hands of our kids. On the contrary, it has the exact opposite effect.

Let us look at some of the numbers from the state of Colorado. Before legalization, Colorado youth ranked 14th in the U.S. for marijuana use. After legalization, Colorado youth ranked number one in the U.S. for the use of marijuana. Before legalization, the usage of marijuana among Colorado youth was 39% above the U.S. national average. After legalization, that number skyrocketed to 74% above the U.S. national average. In the two years following the legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado, overall usage among youth increased by 20%. By contrast, over the same two-year period, usage among youth in the U.S. declined by 4%. Those are some of the statistics. They are clear, unambiguous, out in the open, and available to the government. For a government that talks so much about evidence and evidence-based decision-making, let me say that on the question of the legalization of marijuana, the evidence on keeping it out of the hands of our kids is clear: it does not keep it out of the hands of our kids. It provides it, and increases the likelihood of our youth accessing and using marijuana. Those are the facts.

When one looks at some of the measures in Bill C-45 that the government is proposing to supposedly keep marijuana out of the hands of our kids, one of the things in the bill is a provision that provides that youth—in other words, Canadians between the ages of 12 and 18—are prohibited from possessing more than five grams of marijuana. What happens if someone 12 to 18 possesses four grams of marijuana, three grams of marijuana, two grams of marijuana, or one gram of marijuana? The fact is that right now, if a police officer found a grade six kid, an elementary student who is 12 years old, with five grams of marijuana, which is the equivalent of 10 joints, by the way, the police officer could confiscate the marijuana. However, Bill C-45 would change that. A police officer might not be able to do anything about it, because that grade six student, that 12-year-old with five grams of marijuana, would be within the full confines of the law.

In fairness, the government would say that the provinces will step in and legislate on this. That is true. It is potentially true. We do not know yet whether the provinces will or will not do that. Nonetheless, it can hardly be said that this is a step in the direction of keeping marijuana out of the hands of our youth.

Then, there is the issue of homegrown marijuana. Under this legislation, it provides that any residence in Canada of someone who is 18 years of age or older can have up to four marijuana plants in the residence. Now, I do not know if it occurred to anyone in the government, but just about every youth in Canada, everyone under the age of 18, lives in a residence with someone over the age of 18. Who would have thought of that?

It maybe did not occur to the government that someone who is under the age of 18, with marijuana growing in their house, might actually try to gain access to that marijuana. Who would think that? I cannot think of an easier way for youth to access marijuana than homegrown marijuana—marijuana growing in their own home.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

I guess we are getting very excited, very defensive over there, but we know that this legislation is not keeping marijuana out of the hands of our youth. Those two measures, on their face, do exactly the opposite. Speaking of homegrown marijuana, it certainly is inconsistent with the alleged objective of the bill to keep marijuana out of the hands of our youth. It is also inconsistent with other aspects of Bill C-45.

One of the other objectives of Bill C-45 is to control and regulate the production, sale, and distribution of marijuana. What would homegrown marijuana mean in the context of controlling and regulating the production, sale, and distribution of marijuana? What it would mean is that it would increase the risk of diversion to the black market. It would make it all but impossible to enforce quality and potency controls. It would make it very difficult for law enforcement to enforce against diversion and overproduction. It would result in hazards, like fire hazards. It is perhaps obvious to everyone except the members of the government that it would make it a whole lot easier for kids to access marijuana.

It is no wonder that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have come out strongly against homegrown marijuana. It is no wonder that this past week an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal slammed the government for Bill C-45 for, among other reasons, homegrown marijuana. Homegrown marijuana makes Canadians less safe. It puts vulnerable Canadians and youth at risk. It creates an enforcement nightmare for the police.

One of the things we hear a lot about from the government in terms of Bill C-45 is the assertion that it is taking a public health approach to marijuana. The marijuana task force recommended what it characterized as a public health approach to the legalization of marijuana.

One of the reasons the marijuana task force recommended taking a public health approach is that it recognized there are serious risks involved with the use of marijuana, particularly among youth and vulnerable Canadians. In addition, the marijuana task force also noted that there was a lot of misinformation out there about the use of marijuana, particularly among young people. On that basis, one of the recommendations of the marijuana task force was for the government to move forward with an immediate and sustained education campaign. The marijuana task force recommendations were issued at the end of last year. It is now June 1, six months later, and I ask the government, where is the campaign? Where is the public education campaign? It is nowhere to be seen. If there is a campaign, it is a pretty bad one.

The Minister of Health stood up in her place just minutes ago and bragged about $9.6 million toward an awareness campaign that is invisible. It is $9.6 million over five years. That is less than $2 million each year. When one contrasts that with Colorado, the State of Colorado spent tens of millions of dollars on public education and awareness. It goes to show that when it comes to a so-called public health approach from the current government, it is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

These guys think it is so funny, all of these issues. I will tell them something that is not funny. It is called “drug-impaired driving”. That is going to be one of the biggest consequences of the legalization of marijuana.

We know that with legalization, more and more Canadians will use marijuana. If in doubt, one can look to the state of Colorado where, in the two years following the legalization of marijuana, usage of marijuana among adults increased by some 20%. We know that marijuana is going to be used more widely, and that is going to mean more people are going to get behind the wheel drug impaired. In the state of Colorado, the percentage of motor vehicle deaths involving drug impairment increased by a staggering 62% in the year following legalization. Therefore, legalization would mean more injuries, more deaths, and more carnage on our roads.

In the face of that, law enforcement faces a number of challenges. Among the challenges that law enforcement agencies face is detecting individuals on the road who are drug impaired. Bill C-46 would try to deal with that by providing that police officers who have a reasonable suspicion that someone is drug impaired could require a motorist to take a roadside screening test. It would be an oral saliva test that would test for THC.

There are significant questions about whether the test would be reliable and scientific. There are a whole lot of questions about whether police officers would be able to effectively stop someone and test for drug impairment, even though the government is moving full steam ahead with this legislation, for which we are going to see many more people on our roads who are drug impaired. In addition to that, obviously police departments across Canada have to get police officers trained to detect drug impairment. That is complicated. It is a lot more complicated than detecting alcohol.

The number of drug recognition experts in Canada is around 600, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction. The capacity required in the face of the government's legislation, which again the Liberals are moving full steam ahead with in a year, is around 2,000. There is a lot of work for law enforcement to do. On those two issues, police departments across Canada have to acquire new roadside screening devices, and they have to train police officers to detect drug impairment. Training, by the way, costs on average about $20,000. We are talking about significant costs.

What is the government doing to help police departments across Canada get the equipment and get police officers trained? The answer to that is zero, zip, nada, nothing. I see that as an abdication of leadership, and it is the absence of a plan from the government. Indeed, about the only plan that the government seems to have is that July 1, 2018 date. It is an arbitrary timeline, a rushed timeline. It is a problematic timeline given the amount of work, the amount of planning that is involved in terms of implementation and enforcement of this legislation.

The costs to the provinces and municipalities are going to be significant, and we see no commitment at this time from the government to work with the provinces to help them move forward with the costs of implementation and enforcement. Instead, the government members would just like to take political credit, to say they actually kept an election promise. Imagine that. Now that they can pat themselves on the back and take credit for keeping at least one election promise, provinces and municipalities will bear all the costs, do all the hard work, and the Liberals will wash their hands of it. That is just unacceptable. It is why we heard so many concerns raised by the provinces and municipalities.

We say in closing that what we have from the government is a lack of a plan. At the end of the day, if this legislation is passed, it is going to mean that our kids are going to be less safe, motorists are going to be less safe. Frankly, all Canadians are going to be less safe, and it why this legislation needs to be defeated out of hand.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:30 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for his hard work on the justice committee. He always brings a very important perspective and energy to that work, for which we are grateful. As he was talking, particularly about some of the impaired statistics that he referenced from Colorado, I was reminded of the tendency of some people to use statistics much as a drunk uses a lamppost, far more for support than illumination.

As an example, the member suggested that in the year following the legalization, without regulation of cannabis in Colorado by the way, there was a significant increase, 62%, in the detection of impaired drivers. I would simply remind him that the year before that he is comparing that to, there was no technology or training available to the police in that jurisdiction to detect that substance. We saw that when they were given the ability to detect—as we dealt with in part yesterday as we discussed and passed Bill C-46 for second reading—and when we give law enforcement the tools, the technology, and the training they need to detect this, they will be far more effective in its reduction.

I would also point out that in that same period of time since the legalization of cannabis in Colorado, and this is a correlation and not necessarily a causative relationship, we have seen overall impaired driving drop by more than 50%. We have seen a 10% reduction in crime overall, and a 5% reduction in violent crime in that jurisdiction.

I wonder, in reflection of the fact that when we give the police the tools they will actually be able to detect this offence—and that is the work we have been doing—if the member might agree that we are at least on the right path in that aspect of maintaining public safety.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice for his hard work on a very complex file. He has shown leadership in a lot of respects on this matter. However, I have to say that I was struck by his comments about giving law enforcement the tools and technology. That is part of the problem. We do not know if the right tools are in place, or if they are reliable and have been scientifically tested and approved to be used today. Even if there are such tools, what is lacking is a commitment from the government to help law enforcement get those tools in time for July 1, 2018.

With respect to some of the statistics that he referred to in the state of Colorado, the fact is that there has been carnage on Colorado's roads. There has certainly been a significant increase in marijuana use among youth. For a government that talks so much about taking a public health approach, that should be very concerning, and for a government that talks about taking an evidence-based approach, that should also be very concerning. When one looks at what the Canadian Medical Association or the Canadian Paediatric Society have found, their opinion is that marijuana use among those under the age of 25 impairs brain development. If the government is serious about public health and says its approach is based on public health, then it should take heed of the very troubling statistics in the state of Colorado, which has seen a proliferation in the use of marijuana among youth.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:35 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly enjoy serving on the justice committee with my Conservative colleague.

In his speech, the member touched on the fact that a person 18 years of age or older who distributes to a younger person could be liable, on an indictable offence, to a term of imprisonment for 14 years or, on summary conviction, a $5,000 fine or six months in prison. There are 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds in the same household, and if marijuana is in the household, we do not want those people to be inadvertently caught in these harsh punishments. That is something the government has to take note of.

In his speech, the member also touched on the ability of youth to have up to five grams of marijuana. In the government's briefing document, it states that this would prevent youth from entering the criminal justice system for possessing or distributing small amounts. It still allows for a ticketable offence and for police to seize it. I have talked to Conservative colleagues, and a lot of them seem to be in favour of ticketable offences. I am wondering if the member would agree that it would be in society's interest to prevent youth between the ages of 12 and 17 from having to go through the criminal justice system, while still allowing police to have the power to seize the marijuana and also issue a ticket if necessary. Would he not agree that is a somewhat better approach than using the criminal justice system, which can have far-reaching consequences for youth far into the future?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford raised the point about 18-year-olds getting caught up with very serious charges, and the possibility of serious penalties, including extended periods of imprisonment. He touches on a reasonable point, which speaks to a broader point. When we look at Bill C-45, there is a whole lot of arbitrary cut-offs in the legislation when it comes to those who are 18 versus 17, or 12 versus 11. He is absolutely right in raising that as a point of concern.

With respect to the issue of making it a ticketable offence, I am in agreement with the hon. member that this is something that needs to be carefully looked at. In fact, it is the position of the Conservative Party that we should not move toward legalization but decriminalization, with a ticketing regime for small amounts of marijuana. I cannot speak for everyone, but I think the vast majority of members in the House and the vast majority of Canadians would agree that 17-year-olds or 16-year-olds or 20-year-olds should not be going to jail, and should not have criminal records potentially for the rest of their lives, or an extended period of time, because they were caught with a small amount of marijuana.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, they have to give us this one. I was in teaching for 16 years, so I did a lot of communications. If I went back to teaching, I would invite professors not just from Quebec but from all over Canada to get involved and put the information out there. We would see that young people are not that crazy after all.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about a public education campaign that he said was coming online. I think that is what he said.

The marijuana task force did not talk about a campaign that should come online sometime, somewhere, at some point in the future. Rather, what the marijuana task force recommended was an immediate and sustained education campaign on the very serious risks involved in the use of marijuana, particularly for youth, as well as on the misinformation that is out there, again particularly among youth, with respect to the use of marijuana. That is something the government has failed to do.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:40 p.m.
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Whitby Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to talk about Bill C-45. Before I begin, I would like to let you know I will be splitting my time with the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

I am thrilled to speak about this piece of legislation, because I had the opportunity in March to invite the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and member for Scarborough Southwest to my riding, to the wonderful town of Whitby. I would like to thank him for his dedication to this file, for coming to speak to community groups, and especially for coming to Whitby.

When he came to Whitby in March, he had the opportunity to have a round table with various individuals in our community. There were mayors and councillors from Whitby and the Durham region. There were police, fire, EMS, bylaw enforcement officers, health organizations and departments, mental health professionals, nurses, and individuals from Durham College and UOIT, which is the university in Durham region.

During that round table they had a number of questions, which I highlighted and which we indicated that with the tabling of the legislation should be answered. I want to answer seven of those questions today in my speech, but I also want to speak to the parents in Whitby. Whitby is a bedroom community and there are a lot of families within Whitby, and I would like to speak to the parents because I am a parent myself.

The first question they asked was about resources to the municipalities and how they would be compensated for security, safety, and building resilience. I want to let my colleagues within Whitby and the Durham region know that we will be investing additional resources to make sure there is capacity within Health Canada, the RCMP, the CBSA, and the Department of Public Health and Emergency Preparedness to license, inspect, and enforce all aspects of the proposed legislation. Some might be saying, “That's not municipalities, Celina.” I understand. I will get there.

The task force recommended that we work with provincial and territorial governments to determine a tax regime that includes equitable distribution of revenues. The bill provides legislation and authority via the various acts, but the government is committed to ensuring that law enforcement and our courts have the legislation, technology, training, and resources required to keep our roadways and communities safe. We have committed to invest the revenue into research, prevention, public education, treatment, and rehabilitation. I think that addresses some of the concerns we have in terms of our municipalities getting the resources.

The second question was around effectively enforcing the four-plant rule. The legislation would allow the municipalities to set conditions as to where and how cannabis can be grown within their jurisdiction. Whitby, as I mentioned, is a bedroom community. It is different from other communities, and not all communities are the same. It is a growing community. Therefore, giving the municipality the capacity to determine where and how cannabis can be grown is an important part of this piece of legislation.

The third question asks about the resources for public education for cannabis. We heard some of that debate here in the House. I would like to quote the Minister of Health.

She said yesterday and in her speech again today that our emphasis is on a public health approach to the introduction of the legalization of cannabis, and it is based on a strict regulatory regime. A public health approach means that we are sure to maximize education and minimize harm. Our government is committed to having a broad public education campaign for Canadians of all ages to the proposed legislation, including the penalties for providing cannabis to youth and the risks involved with consuming cannabis. We have committed $9.6 million in budget 2017 over five years, with $1 million per year in ongoing support of public education. The campaign will be focused on helping young Canadians to make the best choices for their future and to understand the risks and consequences of cannabis.

I would also like to quote the parliamentary secretary, who said, “Under decriminalization, cannabis remains unregulated and this means that users know little or nothing about the potency or the quality. ... As long as cannabis use is illegal, it is difficult [and often impossible] for health care or educational professionals to effectively address and prevent problematic use.”

This speaks to the task force recommendation for a comprehensive public education campaign. We have learned lessons from Colorado and from Washington, where their education campaigns used the revenues from cannabis to support that education campaign, and it happened too late. We are following the recommendations, and while I agree that we could have a more robust campaign, we are committed to public education.

The fourth question related to the additional revenues from cannabis going to treatment facilities. The Prime Minister has said that cash that flows to the public coffers from cannabis taxation should go to treatment of addiction, mental health support, and education programs, and not to general revenues. As a very strong advocate for mental health, I am particularly pleased with this approach, because we know that there is a slippery slope between mental health and addiction, and it is important to ensure that we are looking at treatment.

The fifth question was around setting the age at 18. I am a mom of an 18-year-old, as well as a 13-year-old and a nine-year-old, for that matter. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to go back to Whitby and help my daughter get ready for her prom. It was a great moment, and I want to say congratulations to all the students across the country who are graduating, but in particular to the ones from All Saints in Whitby who attended prom with my daughter. Also, this weekend is the Brooklin Spring Fair, and while, like many others, I would be at the fair with my family during the day, many of our young people tend to go to the fair at night. The message that I have to my daughter and to all young people is not to use drugs.

I say so because currently it is untested, unregulated, and potentially unsafe. We would be naive to think that if we said, “Don't use drugs”, our kids would not use them, because we know that in Canada a high percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds use cannabis. In fact, it is 30% of the population. We want to make sure that when we are talking about 18-year-olds or above using cannabis, we understand that these individuals have reached the age of majority. They can vote. They can join the military. My daughter, in a couple of months, is going to be flying to England to go to school, and she will be living on her own. They have the capacity to make choices.

We are not encouraging the use of cannabis; we are saying that well-informed adults have the ability to make a decision on their own.

The sixth question was about data collection and surveillance. We have learned from Colorado's experience to establish good baseline data. The bill would permit the establishment of a cannabis tracking system. The minister spoke about surveys that would be going out, so there is that investment in research.

Last, what did we learn from other jurisdictions? Number one, we learned that we should take a public health approach and not a commercialization approach to cannabis. We have looked at making sure that we limit our young people's access to promotion of cannabis. We saw a couple of days ago that a young girl in Fredericton drank vaping fluid that was in a package that had rainbows on it. That would not be allowed with this legislation. Our public health approach is directed entirely at reducing both the social harms and the health harms.

As a parent, I firmly support this piece of legislation and I am thankful to the parliamentary secretary, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Justice for putting forward this piece of legislation.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, what I do teach my children is to follow the law.

Right now, cannabis remains illegal. It is illegal to buy, to sell, to produce, to import, to export. The current laws remain in force. As a parent, I tell my daughter, who as I have mentioned is 18, not to use drugs. There will be a responsibility on her, if she were to break that rule.

I am not naive with my children. I am not going to give them a free pass to break the rules or break the law. The law is the law, and they should follow it. As a parent, I expect that from my children.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will rephrase my question.

Of course, as parents, we all teach our children to obey the law. However, many young people have a criminal record because of an offence that will soon no longer be an offence.

I think it would have been better if the bill had solved this issue immediately. What is to be done with the criminal records of people arrested for simple possession of marijuana? The bill could have included provisions to wipe out these criminal records immediately. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Does my colleague think that this issue should have been resolved instead of leaving it hanging? Ultimately, thousands of people will have to apply for a pardon, since this offence will soon no longer be an offence.