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

May 30th, 2017 / 10:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the hon. member. As I have said, in my own medical practice I had patients come in who had consumed what they thought was simply cannabis and in fact they had obvious toxic syndromes consistent with other ingestions. It was clear in their mind that nothing else had been ingested. As we have said, there is not a lot of quality control in a substance that is produced by criminal gangs, and people became seriously ill based on the contaminants that were put in.

This would lead to a strictly regulated product that is not available to the public unless it is subject to strict quality controls of the kind we now have today with alcohol.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 10:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-45 concerning the legalization of marijuana.

First, I will say to all my colleagues that I an not an expert, a doctor, a police officer, or a scientist. My post-secondary studies do not make me more qualified than others to talk about drug use. Tonight, I am speaking as a father of three children on the marijuana legalization bill.

This evening, I heard the government use so many platitudes and different talking points that say the same thing, that it makes me think that the government wants to legalize marijuana in order to keep an election promise made to a segment of the electorate in order to win the election. It is another of the many promises made by the Liberals to get votes. Today, they are in a rush to keep this promise, but they are forgetting one key thing: if they legalize this drug, people, youth, and families will suffer.

Some people are really going to suffer as a result of this decision. It is a disgrace to this House and a disgrace to all members to simply repeat the talking points provided by Health Canada, or should I say the office of the Minister of Health. Indeed, it was not Health Canada that provided these talking points, I am sure. The Liberal members keep repeating them ad nauseam to try to convince themselves that legalizing marijuana is good for Canadian society.

I thank my colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis for comparing this situation with the Colorado experience. I heard the member who spoke right before me questioning my colleague's sources. Colorado teachers have painted a picture of the consequences and collateral damage that legalizing marijuana has had on Colorado. There have been seven consequences. Unfortunately, my colleague did not have time to outline all seven elements during his speech, but since I have some time, I will go over them. I will then move on to the heart of matter.

First of all, in 25% to 40% of all cases of impaired driving, marijuana was involved.

Second, in 2012, 10.4% of Colorado youth aged 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.5% nationally. Colorado is now ranked fourth in the nation with 39% more users than the national average. That is what happened.

Third, marijuana-related expulsions and suspensions increased by 32% between 2008-09 and 2012-13.

Fourth, in 2012, 26.81% of college-age students were considered current marijuana users compared to 18.8% nationally. This put Colorado third in the nation at 42% higher than the national average.

Fifth, in 2013, 48.4% of Denver adult arrestees tested positive for marijuana, which is a 16% increase from 2008.

Sixth, from 2011 to 2012, there was a 57% increase in emergency room visits by marijuana users.

Seventh, hospitalizations related to marijuana have gone up by 82% in Colorado since 2008.

We want to make comparisons and tell it like it is. I thank my colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis for giving me this information, which I did not have.

They say they have solved the problems and found solutions, but the fact is that the solutions ended up causing a lot more problems and not meeting the people's expectations. The Colorado situation is taking a heavy toll on young people and families.

My concerns have not changed since the bill was introduced. The government is saying two things. First, it wants to take drug profits away from organized crime, and second, it wants to make it harder for young people to get marijuana.

It makes no sense to give these two reasons when legalizing, and I would instead say normalizing, the use of marijuana in Canada.

Let us first talk about prohibition because that is often the example given. We are often told about the prohibition of alcohol. Profits from the sale of alcohol were taken out of the hands of organized crime. Today, it is a legal and controlled market. On several occasions in recent weeks, I had the opportunity to meet with grade 11 students in my riding. I asked them questions. I sometimes asked their teachers if they would leave the class because I wanted honest answers. I asked how many of them had consumed alcohol. All students raised their hands. In Quebec, grade 11 students are 15 and 16 years old. As far as I know, across Canada people under the age of 18 are prohibited from consuming alcohol. It is a controlled product that is managed by crown corporations and is closely monitored. In addition, everyone knows that consuming alcohol under 18 is illegal. However, all the 16-year-olds I met had consumed alcohol.

The big news is that the Liberals claim that by treating marijuana like alcohol, young people will use it less. What is wrong with this picture? What will happen instead? People will simply trivialize the use of marijuana. It will no longer be a criminal offence. There will be no penalties. Some young person who was hesitating for fear of being caught will have his first joint. I realize that this first experiment might be the last for many young people. It might be just an occasional thing. However, what might happen to kids who have more problems, those who are having difficulties, those who are having a hard time at home and who might try this and feel good for the first time in their lives? They will not use marijuana just one, two, or three times. They will continue to use it. As a father, this worries me. This is what we need to think about. We have to stop thinking about numbers and everything that is going to happen. This is the reality, because this is what is happening on the ground. This is what young people tell us when we talk to them.

I asked these young people another question. I asked them how many of them had ever tried marijuana, how many had tried a joint, and how many had tried it just once. About a third of them, 30%, 35%, or 40%, depending on the class, raised their hands in front of their teacher or even their father. It seemed cool. It is odd, because it is not all that cool, since only a third raised their hands. When I asked them if they supported the legalization of marijuana, even those who had tried it did not all raise their hands. A smaller number support the legalization of marijuana. Among the youth aged 16 and under that I met at high school, between 60% and 75% did not support the legalization of marijuana.

When I talk to them, they tell me that they are opposed to the legalization of cannabis because they have seen what marijuana did to their friend. He started using marijuana, quit school, and no longer hangs around with them. He was a good student and they had fun together, but he withdrew from the group. He became a whole different person. He started hanging around with different people and is now, unfortunately, no longer part of their group. That is what young people are telling me. I am not talking about statistics, studies, or bogus consultations to justify an election promise. I am talking about what young people are saying about this issue.

The second argument really makes me laugh. The Liberals are saying that they want to divert the profits from organized crime. Let us come back to the issue of alcohol. In the old days, alcohol was illegal and governments had the bright idea to take back control of alcohol in order to hinder organized crime. The result is that, today, organized crime no longer exists.

The silence speaks volumes. Does organized crime still exist? Did organized crime figure out a way to continue to make money? Yes. It found drugs, including marijuana. Organized crime finds a way. If we take away its way of making money, it will simply find other things to sell, which we think is even more worrisome.

Over the past weeks, months, and years, organized crime has been shifting its focus to chemical drugs, which cause people to completely lose control and create instant addiction, unlike marijuana. Criminals will make sure that young people who buy marijuana legally try these other kinds of drugs.

Anyone who believes that organized crime will cease to exist once marijuana is legal is dreaming in colour. This is a problem because these people will never go away unless and until we can tackle who they are and what they have. These are inherently evil people bent on making money, and they need to be locked up, hunted down, caught in the act, and punished. Legalizing the bad things they do will not make those things any better. I cannot accept that.

The worst part is that this bill tells us how marijuana legalization is going to work. It even says that it will be up to the provinces to decide what to do with 12- to 18-year-olds caught with marijuana. The federal government thinks all it needs to do is legalize marijuana. It could not care less what happens to young people. That is what Bill C-45 will do. It will allow young people to possess marijuana. The government says that is all fine and legal. Again, what kind of message is that sending to young people?

Marijuana will be legal for 18-year-olds even though health experts all agree that it is a bad idea. I will have more to say later about the marijuana plants that everyone will be allowed to grow at home. I have family members who died of cancer because they smoked. We hear about cancer caused by second-hand smoke all the time.

What will happen to kids who are only four, five, or six years old whose parents use marijuana? What will happen to landlords whose tenants decide to smoke marijuana in their apartment since it is legal? Anyone who has ever entered an apartment building on the same floor as someone smoking marijuana knows that it smells awful.

You have no choice but to walk through the smoke. It is a bit like what happens on the Hill on April 20. Everyone knows what it is. Imagine the same thing, then, in a small apartment with no ventilation. It is incredible. It is already happening now, but it will be even worse once it becomes legal. That is what worries me.

This bill contains absolutely nothing to help families, young people and parents, who will have to face the problems associated with their kids using cannabis. What is the government going to do to support them? What is it going to do to discourage young people from smoking marijuana? This bill sends a clear message. The government can say that packaging must not be appealing, and indeed, the packaging will not be pretty, but rather plain black with simply the contents and quantity, but pot is still pot, whether it is packaged nicely or not.

What is being done to discourage young people from trying it for the first time? This bill contains absolutely nothing in the area of prevention, nothing to help families who might be struggling with a child who has tried marijuana for the first time or who might have become addicted to pills or chemicals. There is absolutely nothing in the bill.

Then the government will ask us to give it our support and our trust. This is about our young people's lives. We are not here to debate something immaterial that will never happen in our lifetime. This is about my son's life, my daughter's life, and the lives of each and every one of our children. It is all too convenient to simply repeat the talking points provided by the cabinet about legalizing marijuana and how easy that is going to be.

I say “talking points” because the Liberals all repeat the same thing. No one else has said what I am saying now, because, quite frankly, I am speaking from the heart. Have I been reading any notes since I stood up? No, because I am speaking from the heart and I wanted to share this moment with my colleagues, because it is very important. I do not want to convince them to renege on their promise. I simply want them to put that promise aside and think for two seconds about the consequences for our youth. I want them to ask themselves if it is really worth going as far as legalizing marijuana to keep an election promise, considering the major negative impacts it will have on every young Canadian.

My office intern prepared plenty of arguments for me. A Radio-Canada survey revealed that Canadians, especially Quebeckers, are opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I have here with me several reports from the World Health Organization showing that marijuana usage has many negative repercussions on the health of young people, teenagers, parents, and adults.

Another study talks about the effects of secondary smoke on unborn babies still in their mother's womb. There are statistics. I could have spent the entirety of my speech spouting numbers that show how dangerous this is, but I chose to speak from the heart instead of doing what the Liberals do and quote studies to try to prove that maybe it is not so bad. This issue concerns me directly because I have children. It concerns directly each and every member of this House who has children. All members should be extremely concerned.

I do not understand how members opposite can accept that the government legalize marijuana without implementing any prevention measure worth mentioning. The money that was announced is ridiculous. No supports for parents who will be struggling with this issue are being proposed. As far as prevention goes, what will we tell our youth? Maybe it is legal, but it is not ethical, and it is not good for them or for their future.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 10:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent speech.

I have been in this House for about two years, and I keep hearing the same arguments. I remember that when the former Conservative leader was minister of health, the approach was based on the economic action plan. It was a commercial-based approach. I remember her saying that they would spend $1.5 million to reduce the usage rate among young people.

I have only one question for my colleague. Did this approach work?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 10:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have no idea if it worked or not. All I know is that what they end up putting forward will be worse.

At least, under the Conservatives, drugs remained illegal. I am not at all opposed to decriminalizing marijuana. I do not think that young people who are exposed to peer pressure or make an error in judgment and experiment with marijuana should be saddled with a criminal record if they get caught. That is something they will have to carry with them for the rest of their lives, on top of not being able to travel to the United States. However, I do think it important for young people to know that it is not good for them or their health. They have to know that consuming too much jeopardizes their future.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 10:50 p.m.
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NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his speech the member for Mégantic—L'Érable spoke of organized crime. I would like to bring to his attention that several articles and studies show that the level of THC will be higher in the cannabis sold by organized crime than in the cannabis sold by government agencies. Organized crime will therefore not be deterred, even though one of the government's arguments is that their system would wipe out organized crime.

What should the government do to put a stop to this?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 10:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the term suggests, crime will organize and reorganize. If the marijuana sold by the government does not cut it, organized crime will sell more potent stuff at the same price. Consumers will then continue to get their supply from organized crime. Organized crime is not going anywhere. That is what our experience with alcohol has shown.

We must fight against organized crime. Legalizing what it is selling is no way to do that. However, if we decriminalize simple possession of marijuana, police will not be called upon to step in quite so much. In our current justice system, when police officers want to lay charges for simple possession of narcotics, the burden of proof falls on them since that is a criminal offence. The police must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual in question had the drugs in their possession. With fines, the burden of proof is reversed. The person on the receiving end of the fine has to prove that the drugs were not in their possession. They will have to pay the fine and will get a slap on the wrist. That is sure to scare them straight. On the off chance it does not, however, they will get slapped with another fine later on. The government will still get paid.

The people will know that we do not tolerate the consumption of marijuana, and that, in turn, will help us fight organized crime. Police will remain vigilant and arrest all those who would supply marijuana to our young people. If the bill is passed, we will end up buried so deep in drugs that we will have no way of knowing where it comes from anymore. Does it come from organized crime or from the user's own personal crop? It will become very difficult for police to go after drug traffickers.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 10:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate my colleague's comments. We have some similarities, in our backgrounds in education working with students and in what we are concerned about.

Also, public health is another part that I have been involved in through the administration of large health regions. I mean public health in the sense that the number that has been proposed is in singular millions. We spent that much in a health region for public health to deal with smoking and we were able to drive down the number of people who were smoking, especially teenagers, who are most at risk. The most at risk in that group were pregnant females, who were really at risk from smoking, yet even with singular millions in one health region, we did not get where we wanted to go with our students.

Would the member please respond again about the similar situations we had at schools as we worked with students and how we understand how critical education is, and the amount of money we need, which is sadly lacking in this proposal?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 10:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has a majority. Will we be able to prevent this bill that will cause harm—irreparable harm in my view—to our young people from passing? I do not think so. If the government wants to go forward, all I ask is that the members opposite who are mothers and fathers insist that the government make every possible effort to convince young people not to use marijuana and to help parents and family members to cope with the situation.

Some people seem to take this lightly, when it is in fact a very real problem. We know that the Liberals have the power and the members they need to pass the bill, but if they do, they have to take responsibility. For those who are not part of cabinet, now is the time to speak up and insist that the government do things right and give money and resources to those who will be faced with the problems that the government is going to create. The government has to help marijuana users to stop and, most importantly, prevent people from using it in the first place if possible.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 10:55 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 have listened very carefully to the member opposite. He seems to be focused on a very small, singular aspect of the bill before us tonight; that is, the issue of legalization. He seems quite loath to make any acknowledgement that there are 131 pages here that articulate very strict regulations for the production, distribution, and consumption of cannabis, which will be a far more effective regime in responding to the access that children currently have to cannabis, and dealing effectively with organized crime. I want to assure him that my question does not arise from talking points; it arises from four decades of keeping kids safe and protecting my community in Toronto, as well as over a decade as the chair of the national organized crime committee. Therefore, I do have some experience and expertise in this. I will assure him, and perhaps reassure him, by drawing his attention to clauses 10 through 15 of this bill, that the bill maintains very strong prohibitions under criminal law for the illegal distribution, production, import, export, and use of kids for the sale of these drugs. They are very strong regulations to control organized crime.

I will also share with him my experience dealing with organized crime and gambling, which is an activity that is still on the books as gaming offences. However, over four decades ago, governments across this country began to strictly regulate gambling, and it drove organized crime out of that business. Perhaps more importantly, the revenue from that business is now invested into treatment and rehabilitation for those who suffer the ill effects of gambling. Therefore, I want to reassure the member, with respect to his comments, that this is not a fly-by approach but an exhaustive examination of the evidence and the best advice of experts. He raised a number of issues and quoted a number of statistics that I would hope to have an opportunity to clarify for him in the future with respect to the Colorado experience.

However, given the fact that this a very comprehensive bill, it clearly provides a regime for the strict regulation of the production, distribution, and consumption of cannabis, which in my opinion, based on four decades of experience, will do a better job of protecting our kids. I would urge him to actually read the bill.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 11 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, my colleague should not doubt that I have read the bill. I have read it, because I am here to discuss it. I take exception to the member asking if I have read the bill.

It is true that the bill would increase penalties for selling drugs and do all the things my colleague just mentioned. The bill will also legalize marijuana. It will ultimately trivialize marijuana usage. It does not matter if the bill is 100, 200, or 1,000 pages long, the end result is that marijuana will be legalized, its usage will be trivialized and criminal organizations will keep finding ways to do what they do.

I acknowledge my colleague's wealth of experience. However, I think there is something fundamentally lacking in this process, and that is prevention and education. Really, $1.9 million per year over five years is ridiculous, considering the hundreds of millions of dollars of profit the Liberals will make out of this. It is pitiful.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 11 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-45, on which I worked very hard. This bill will allow the Liberal government to legalize marijuana; for those who might not know, the substance has been illegal in Canada for 94 years. To top it off, the government hopes to accomplish all this in under a year.

That is a very tight timeline for a subject as complex as this, especially when we take the time to look at what other countries have done. Why the rush? One has to wonder, given that the government keeps repeating over and over again and shouting from the rooftops that it has two main objectives, which are to restrict the activities of organized crime, perhaps even to wipe it out entirely, and to keep the substance out of the hands of children.

I will speak to a few different points. First, organized crime will not back off. Furthermore, young people will have even greater access to marijuana, there will be an increase in impaired driving, and workplace safety, which is nowhere to be found in this bill, will take a turn for the worse, endangering workers. Many business leaders are quite concerned about this. Housing-related problems will rise too. We will be faced with serious problems, and yet no one is talking about it. Among other things, there will be an increase in hospitalization rates and in calls to poison control centres, while ethical problems will grow.

Conservatives are not the ones saying all this, and I am certainly not pulling these facts out of my hat; these are the conclusions of studies done by experts who are not financed by pro-marijuana lobbies. These are the facts. These studies were conducted by experts and health professionals, and the results were presented by actual scientists. I would also add that there are real examples of places where governments legalized marijuana. I will go through them all one by one.

First, with regard to organized crime and according to my own research, no marijuana legislation will succeed in wiping out organized crime. In Uruguay and in some of the U.S. states that have legalized marijuana, black markets have only grown.

I will now quote someone who is not a Conservative MP or a mean old Conservative, as the Liberals like to put it.

Despite having legalized recreational marijuana use, Colorado has seen a rise in black market activity. The state is the second largest producer of illegal marijuana after California.

Who said this? The chief of the Denver Police Department.

Criminals are still active on the black market. We have a whole range of cartels active in Colorado, and illegal activity has not dropped one bit.

Who said this, now? The Colorado Attorney General.

The decriminalization of cannabis use has not eliminated organized crime. It has merely adapted and managed to gain a foothold in coffee shops, while retaining control over cannabis production.

Who said that? A criminologist analyzing the situation in Uruguay. Again, this person has is a non-partisan opinion.

Let us now talk about protecting children. I think it is completely inconsistent for the Prime Minister to want to limit access to cannabis for young people while allowing people to grow up to four plants in their own house or apartment.

Even worse, he makes it legal for kids under 18 who are not even supposed to be allowed to use marijuana to have five grams in their pockets. It is illegal, but who cares, kids can have five grams. It boggles the mind.

This government claims to make science-based decisions, but what does the science say? It says that marijuana is dangerous for young people under 25. What is the government's response? It says that it does not matter and that the legal age will be 18. If they had the courage, the Liberals would stop quoting scientists and stop trying to sell this nonsense to Canadians.

I have a few more quotes. I did not make them up, but they come from surprising sources.

Young people are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of marijuana because adolescence is a critical time for brain development.

I found that quote on Health Canada's website. It is from the government's own public servants, who are neutral and have nothing to do with the Conservative Party.

Here is another quote. In Colorado, the number of patients admitted to hospitals after the legalization of marijuana increased dramatically. It almost tripled, from 803 diagnostics per 100,000 people from 2001 to 2009 before legalization to 2,142 diagnostics per 100,000 people after legalization.

That is from a Colorado Public Safety report.

Here is another good example. Calls regarding overdoses made to poison control centres rose by 108% in Colorado and by 68% in Washington State since 2012.

These numbers are from the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. Would anyone say that these are not credible sources?

The safety of our roads and drug-impaired driving is another major cause of concern in my view. It is already a terrible problem. There are almost as many accidents caused by drug-impaired driving than by alcohol-impaired driving, and the numbers will increase. The facts are clear.

In Washington State, after legalization, fatal accidents caused by impaired driving doubled. In Colorado, they tripled.

Here are a few more quotes:

CAA-Québec members are worried by marijuana becoming legal in Canada. [We could do the same survey in other provinces and I am convinced the results would be the same.] Some 73% of respondents to a survey done by the organization expressed concerns that this measure proposed by the [Liberal] government would negatively impact road and highway safety.

Here is another one, from a surprising source: “The number of car accidents in Colorado increased because of marijuana usage.” Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to Barack Obama on drug policy, is the author of that quote.

“Close to half of Canadians who drive while under the influence of cannabis think that they are not a danger on the road.”

That is over 50%. In his budget, the government is setting aside $1.9 million for awareness campaigns in the entire country, knowing full well that legalization will occur within a year. That is absolutely ridiculous. Half of marijuana users currently consider that they are not dangerous.

Let us now turn to workplace safety. Many Canadian business leaders are concerned that the legalization of marijuana could lead to workplace safety problems. Many business owners and experts spoke to this in recent months.

“'It's so dangerous.' With cannabis becoming legal, he feels that the problem could get worse and he doesn't feel prepared.” This is a quote from Alain Raymond, owner of a roofing company.

“We know that cannabis can have an impact on concentration and reflexes. We also know that cannabis can be detected 15 to 30 days after use. How about an employee who uses marijuana on the weekend but doesn't want his or her employer to know? What does that person do?” That is from Hugo Morissette, a human resources consultant.

Judging by the Colorado experience, these concerns are justified. The number of employees affected by marijuana has risen dramatically in Colorado, from 2.7% in 2011 to 7.5% in 2015, after legalization. The numbers have tripled. It is not insignificant.

The CEO of GE Johnson even said that it was so difficult to find employees that could pass a mouth swab test for marijuana, that he had to hire people from outside the state.

In short, considering the obligations of every employer in Quebec and in every other province, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana will expose employers and employees to many legal and other associated risks, such as the risk of more workplace accidents, increased employee absenteeism, and lower employee productivity. Employees would also be at risk of developing a marijuana addiction, which would in turn require that employers provide proper accommodation. Lastly, there would be a risk of increased health care cost-related claims. That is yet another aspect of the marijuana legalization issue that is far from settled, and the bill does nothing to settle it.

I will now return to the issue I spoke of early on in my speech, that of rental properties. Not a single word on this can be found in the bill. Marijuana legalization complicates the management of rental properties. Landlords fear that growing these plants indoors, up to four per housing unit, will cause damage to the units. What is more, dangerous modifications to existing electrical systems will lead to an increased risk of fire and accidents. Those hoping for an earlier harvest will undoubtedly attempt to tinker with their grid.

I will move a bit more quickly through the other parts, as I do not have many people to persuade. Marijuana's effects on health are particularly troubling to me. Medical experts agree that marijuana is a dangerous drug for children and teenagers; I would add that it is dangerous for all vulnerable persons. Whether for or against legalization, everyone can agree on that.

The Liberals are reluctant to admit that cannabis consumption has the same effect on teenagers, unlike alcohol, and that is to cause permanent damage to the brain. The Canadian Medical Association has already warned the government that occasional cannabis use can have severe psychological repercussions on the brain's development, even up to age 25.

The Canadian Medical Association recommends a legal minimum age, and it would even agree to drop that number down to 21, if that would help the government make a wise decision. What was this irresponsible government's response? Eighteen years. The Liberals have the nerve to say they base their decisions on science and on experts, but the truth of the matter is that they base their decisions on their friends who will benefit from the legalization of marijuana. I will return to this a bit later.

Today, Colorado ranks first in cannabis consumption. Before legalization, and for ten consecutive years, it took 14th place. How can the Liberals assure parents that legal marijuana will stay far, far away from the children? On that, the Liberals are radio silent and offer no assurances.

How can the Liberals claim that legalizing marijuana and allowing the personal cultivation of up to four plants per housing unit will lead to limiting children's access to marijuana? Once again, the Liberals are radio silent. They are keeping mum on the real issues, which raises some serious questions as to the government's true intentions.

I am now getting to the really juicy part of my speech. I got a call from a friend of mine last week. He is always on top of the news cycle. He asked me to explain to him why, despite all the warnings, the Liberal government had decided to go forward with its legislation. I answered that there definitely had to be a reason. The reason is simple: the government has friends who will benefit from this move. It is a lucrative business for marijuana production company CEOs. This week, we learned that a third of these companies have at least one major Liberal Party donor on their board of directors. Those are the facts. These companies are run by people close to the Liberal Party. I will name a few. I will add that I did not even have to dig too deep, because the story is getting quite a bit of media coverage these days.

Here is one of the quotes:

The co-founder of The Hydropothecary, the only licensed producer of medical marijuana in Quebec, Adam Miron, was the national director of the Liberal Party of Canada and the national director of the Young Liberals of Canada.

That is something else, is it not? The only licensed producer in Quebec is part of the Liberal Party of Canada. Here is another quote:

At Aurora Cannabis, which is trying to open a plant on Hymus Boulevard in west Montreal, Chuck Rifici, who was on the board of directors, was the chief financial officer of the Liberal Party of Canada until last summer.

Last summer is not very long ago. I think that people know him, but we do not have the right to say these things about him outside the House because he files lawsuits against us if we name him. At least here I can say these things. Here is another quote:

Mr. Rifici was working for the Liberal Party of Canada when he co-founded Tweed, which became the largest producer of medical marijuana in the country, with a market capitalization of over $1 billion.

We need not look very far to see why the government is in such a rush to legalize marijuana. All of the research and statistics show that marijuana is dangerous for children and that we do not have enough information. However, no measures have been put in place to ensure that children will be protected against this product. There is also no evidence to show that there will be fewer motor vehicle accidents. Our police officers do not even have the proper equipment.

I sponsored Senator Claude Carignan's bill in the House, and it is already pretty far along in the process, but the government plans to vote against it, even though it could speed up the process if for no other reason than to ensure that our police officers are properly equipped and to give them the training they need so that they are able to actually take action on July 1 if the government goes forward with this.

Since a Conservative senator was the one who introduced the bill, the government decided not to support it. Instead, it decided to come up with another bill to draw things out, even though Senator Carignan's bill had the unanimous support of the Senate, including that of independent Liberal senators, or maybe they are not independent. We no longer know. The reality is that we are not going to be ready.

I will return to the topic at hand. It is also about ethics. President Barack Obama's former advisor on drug policies, Kevin Sabet, says that they were fooled. He believes that the legalization of marijuana in Alaska, Oregon, Colorado and the State of Washington is all about money and benefits private equity firms, and that the decision had nothing to do with public health. He says that there is a huge industry in Colorado, which is like the tobacco industry and has its own lobbyists.

That is the reality. It has nothing to do with good intentions that go over well when the Liberals talk to Canadians. The reality is that what they are saying is false and that there is a lobby that is applying pressure. Every U.S. state where marijuana was legalized or is in the process of being legalized held a referendum. Moreover, in the states where marijuana was legalized, it was by a narrow margin of 50.5%, 51%, or 52% of the vote. Who provided the information? It was always the big marijuana lobby. That is the reality.

What is happening in Canada is surprising. I believe I spoke about this earlier. I named names, and I am not going to return to that. However, I have some interesting information about the person who will certainly ask me a question, and that is the parliamentary secretary responsible for the legalization of marijuana. He is being investigated by the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner with respect to a fundraiser attended by Liberal donors who are lobbying for the legalization of marijuana. He will ask me a question, and I will enjoy answering him.

One person at the fundraising cocktail party attended by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, who was the special guest, and also responsible for the legalization of marijuana, pointed out that there were many other people from the cannabis industry that were trying to get his attention. I think we are starting to get the picture.

A recent article in La Presse revealed that former Liberal politicians and former senior Liberal Party officials sit on the boards of directors of the largest cannabis producers in the country and make donations to the Liberal Party. It could not be any clearer. Pretending that the government is presenting a bill that will protect our kids and keep our roads safe is disingenuous. It is not true.

If the Prime Minister used his notoriety to promote healthy life choices, it would be much more useful and a lot less young people and other individuals would be smoking marijuana.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 11:20 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, the member opposite correctly has said that he is protected by privilege in this room and, quite frankly, he uses that privilege perhaps quite inappropriately. I will respond to a number of things he said.

First, he maligned Canadian citizens in his remarks as somehow gaining some opportunity or advantage from this government. As I have already mentioned to his colleague, all of the companies and individuals he mentioned who received licences received them from the Conservative government, from him. I am beginning to suspect you are so well versed in malfeasance, perhaps you have better understanding of this than I do. The decisions to give those companies licences was a decision made by your government.

The member also raises an issue about something I have, a number of times—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 11:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Bill Blair Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned that as a result of a completely baseless accusation made to the Ethics Commissioner, I was the subject of an investigation. I have been completely cleared. I have also been the subject of a number of other similar baseless accusations that came from somewhere, of which I have been completely cleared. It seems to be a tactic used on the opposite side to bring these matters forward without any evidence or fact.

Let me give him some facts. The fact is that our children—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 11:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes, and the worst part about it is that they are going to continue to get it from organized crime. What did it say in the report that the working group tabled, the report that the parliamentary secretary relied on to draft this bill? The government is not going to legislate on THC levels. Instead, it is going to say that the higher the THC level, the more it will cost. What is organized crime going to do? It is going to continue to charge less. Even better, people will save a minimum of 15% in taxes by buying cannabis from organized crime. That is what is going to happen. This is going to continue.

Experience shows that this is the case. In Colorado, organized crime continued to operate. The Liberals need to stop talking nonsense. They need to rely on the sound evidence that is there and that speaks for itself. Their own report says that this will be the case.

I imagine that the Liberals are so defensive because they know that something is not right. I hope that they will start to wake up because that is what Canadians are doing. None of the states in the U.S. legalized marijuana without at least holding a referendum to find out what people thought about it. Right now, the Liberals are trying to shove this down our throats whether we like it or not.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 11:25 p.m.
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NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the examples that he gave regarding the United States and for the many arguments he presented regarding the Liberal government's bill.

I would like to ask my colleague whether he can better explain the Conservative's position on this issue. Are the Conservatives satisfied with the existing system? Marijuana is available everywhere in Canada, but Canadians can face criminal charges for using it.