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

June 1st, 2017 / 7:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, the simple answer to that is no. It would be premature for us to have introduced decriminalization along with the legislation.

The legislation is in place to strictly regulate the use of cannabis, to get the profits out of the hands of criminals, and to reduce the impacts to our children and our communities. We introduced a couple of pieces of legislation, one that will legalize and one that will make enforcement of our laws, especially with driving, a lot more comprehensive.

I do not think we should have decriminalized at the same time as we introduced the legislation.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:55 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 thank the member not only for her speech but for one of the best experiences, quite frankly, I had while involved in the development of legislation and travelling across the country, which was the opportunity I was given when I received an invitation from the member to attend a round table she had organized.

At that round table, there were senior elected officials from the municipality, representatives of the police service, fire service, and public health, people who were involved in problematic substance use, and people who were involved in working with children and delivering services in their community.

For me, it was an extraordinarily good learning opportunity. It was also a great reminder about the important role that local officials will have in making sure that this works. I want to share with the House that at that meeting, what we encountered, as I had right across the country, was an overwhelming consensus that the current system is failing our kids and we must do a better job of protecting them, that it was completely unacceptable to leave this business in the hands of organized crime, which causes so much violence and victimization in our communities, and, finally, that we had a responsibility to protect the health of our citizens.

Upon reflection of that experience and her involvement in her community, does the member have any other advice for the government on how we might strengthen that relationship in working with local officials?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes Liberal Whitby, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague again for his work on this file, and in particular for coming to Whitby and talking to our municipal leaders.

We have taken a comprehensive approach to the legalization of marijuana with Bill C-45 and also with Bill C-46 to ensure that our communities are safe, to ensure that drugs stay out of the hands of children, to ensure that the packaging is done in a way that does not promote the use of marijuana, and to ensure that it becomes illegal to sell or use children to sell or promote the use of cannabis.

Having the community involved in this discussion and present questions is critically important. I thank the parliamentary secretary for his duty in doing so.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 7:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise and speak today in support of Bill C-45, the cannabis act. I want to explain that the objectives of this act are to put in place a national system that better protects our young Canadians, keeps profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime, and where responsible adults will have controlled access to a strictly regulated source of cannabis.

Before I go on, I want to explain some of the options that we previously had. They were the status quo, which we know does not work; the Peter MacKay approach, where he wanted to ticket people until former prime minister Stephen Harper ticketed him for even saying so in public; or the advertising economic action plan approach, which does a lot of advertising with very little benefit to society.

We chose a different approach and a key feature of Bill C-45 is to protect youth and public health by restricting the advertising and promotion of cannabis.

Our government knows that there are very real health risks associated with cannabis consumption. Scientific data do not lie. Those risks increase considerably when cannabis consumption begins in early adolescence. For instance, research shows that the brain does not fully develop until the age of about 25. Young people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cannabis on brain development and brain function. THC affects the biological mechanisms of the brain that allow it to develop.

Canadian youth have one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world. In 2015, 21% of youth aged 15 to 19 reported using cannabis in the past year. Given the high rates of cannabis use among young Canadians today, protecting youth and minimizing harm are paramount objectives for government, along with keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime. This is a key reason why our government has committed to legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis in partnership with the provinces and territories with the goal of keeping it out of the hands of Canadian youth.

I would like to point out that young people often find it easier to buy cannabis than cigarettes. I remember this well, for it was not all that long ago that I was young. We believe that creating a strong regulatory framework based on the lessons we have learned from regulating tobacco and alcohol will lead to better results, particularly regarding our children.

In particular, the way the federal government regulates tobacco advertising provides a sound basis for dealing with cannabis. The Tobacco Act sets out a comprehensive framework for limiting advertising and promotion in a reasonable and promotional manner to ensure that young people are protected from strong inducements to consume tobacco.

The proposed advertising and promotion restrictions proposed in Bill C-45 are similar to these existing restrictions dealing with tobacco where promotional activities are prohibited except in certain circumstances. Let us face it. The advertising and promotion of consumer products is a valuable tool for industry so they can generate demand for their products and increase their revenue. We have a responsibility to establish reasonable checks and balances on these activities to ensure that important public policy objectives such as protecting the health and well-being of our young persons are achieved.

I strongly believe the promotion restrictions proposed in Bill C-45 represent a balanced approach. These measures will help protect youth from being encouraged or tempted to use cannabis while also providing responsible adult users with factual information so that they can make informed decisions about the cannabis they choose to purchase and consume.

The approach our government is taking to limit promotional activities was developed in response to the influence and the impact of advertising on the general population. We know that advertising influences consumers' decisions and behaviours. Public health research confirmed that advertising can have a significant impact on the appeal, social acceptance, and normalization of a particular product and, at the same time, on the frequency of use, especially among youth.

It has also been proven that promotion can foster use by youth exposed to advertising that primarily targets adults.

In addition, there is evidence that some interventions, such as partial restrictions on promotional activities and public information campaigns, may not be effective, especially when they are competing with industry marketing and advertising campaigns. In light of this evidence, our government is proposing a comprehensive set of restrictions in Bill C-45 for the promotion of cannabis, which will protect youth and adults from being persuaded or attracted to using cannabis.

However, businesses will still be able to provide factual information to adult consumers about the products they have available so that adults will be able to make informed choices. As well, businesses will be able to provide information that allows them to distinguish themselves and their products from others in the legal cannabis market.

The prevention and reduction of inducements to cannabis consumption by youth and others is an important public health objective for our government. This objective is clearly articulated in the section dealing with the purpose of Bill C-45 and is confirmed by tough, new penalties for those who break the law, including those who target youth in their promotion of cannabis.

The following are some key measures proposed in Bill C-45 to support our government in meeting the objectives of keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth and protecting them from being encouraged to consume it. Bill C-45 proposes to prohibit the promotion of cannabis in any manner that is appealing to youth. This would include promotions featuring cartoon characters, animals, or celebrities. The use of testimonials or endorsements that are popular these days in social media or sponsorships would also be banned. The bill would also prohibit the branding of merchandise that could be considered appealing to youth, such as skateboards and lunch boxes.

Lifestyle promotions would also be banned. This would include any promotion that creates an association with cannabis that, for example, evokes a way of life that is trendy, active, or exciting. For example, cannabis advertisements would not be able to associate cannabis with success in sports or daring stunts. I do not believe we will be seeing any Crashed Ice events anytime soon.

Bill C-45 would also prohibit any promotion that includes false, misleading, or deceptive information. This measure is important because such promotion could result in a false impression about important matters, such as potency of the product or potential health effects.

The proposed measures are consistent with the advice of the expert task force our government established last year. They told us that an overwhelming majority of stakeholders strongly recommended that the government take a public health approach and impose reasonable restrictions on efforts to promote cannabis. By adopting a public health approach, our government is acknowledging this recommendation.

These measures are necessary to protect youth and others from any inducement or temptation to consume cannabis. They will be even more important given the health risks associated with cannabis consumption which, as we know, are even greater for Canadian youth.

I am pleased to say that the legislative measures proposed in Bill C-45 will be supported by investments and efforts to increase cannabis-specific public health awareness and education that will target young Canadians and other groups. Our government is committed to early and sustained public awareness and education activities. As we know, in budget 2017, our government committed $9.6 million over five years to a public education and awareness campaign and surveillance activities. I believe this is vital to increase awareness and understanding the risks associated with cannabis use and to promote responsible consumption.

As I previously mentioned, Bill C-45 does strike the right balance by allowing industry to promote its products and brands in an appropriate and controlled manner. For example, Bill C-45 would allow information-type promotion directed at adults. This type of information would include factual and accurate information about cannabis products, such as price, THC levels, ingredients, and the use of pesticides. It would also allow the promotion of information for the purpose of distinguishing brands. This would include information about the characteristics of a cannabis brand.

This type of promotion would be permitted in places where it cannot be seen by anyone under the age of 18. This would include places young people cannot access by law or a website where there is an appropriate tool to verify age. For the packaging and labelling of cannabis, the cannabis act would also work to protect youth and Canadians. The restrictions would include measures to ban any packaging appealing to children and the use of false or misleading information on a package.

I am confident that the proposed approach for the advertising and promotion of cannabis provides the best balance of protecting youth and public health while enabling adults to make educated and informed decisions.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully as my colleague read his notes, which were likely prepared by cabinet or the health minister, since they contained a lot of details about advertising. However, he did not say what he thinks about whether the bill trivializes the use of marijuana in Canada. Does he really believe that young people who do not have access to nicely packaged cannabis will just not buy or use it?

I want to remind my colleague that, when I talk to my constituents, most high school students say that they are opposed to using marijuana because they have seen the effects that it has had on their friends.

Does my colleague encourage the use of marijuana among young people between the ages of 18 and 25?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

He just drew attention to the fact that young people are currently using marijuana, so now we need to figure out what to do about it. We can take the same old approach that is not working, as demonstrated by the fact that Canada has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world, or we can come up with a new approach.

I remember that it was much easier for me to buy marijuana in the school yard than it was for me to buy alcohol. To do that, I had to cross the border into Quebec, even though it was not very far since I am from Hawkesbury. Marijuana dealers do not ask to see ID. Unfortunately, that is not what happens. With a regulated system, young people would not have such easy access to cannabis.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:10 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a little baffled to hear the member opposite saying that the Liberals want to protect our young people and public health by focusing on prevention, and that they are doing so by imposing sanctions. That is not what prevention means to me.

The Minister of Health and my colleague said several times that awareness campaigns were a priority in Bill C-45. I am happy to hear that, but there is no new funding associated with this bill for prevention programs in our schools or in community groups that work directly on the ground with young people in the areas of addictions, crime and mental health.

Why is the government not allocating the necessary funding? Colorado allocates $45 million a year, whereas this government plans to allocate less than $2 million. In five years, it will be only $1 million a year. That is not nearly enough to run a decent and much-needed prevention campaign. The provinces, teachers, and community groups are asking for funding for prevention, as are all of the experts who work with young marijuana users.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP seems to be saying that there is currently no prevention campaign in Canada and that the rate of cannabis use is suddenly going to skyrocket all across the country because of Bill C-45. That is not what is happening and that is not what the evidence shows.

I attended two sessions in schools designed to prevent the use of cannabis and other drugs. There are already measures in place. What we are proposing is a partnership between the federal government, the provinces and the municipalities.

The NDP likes to say that it wants us to spend more money, but it wanted to balance the budget. If it had balanced the budget, it would not have had any money left for health transfers, which also play a big role.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government recently introduced Bill C-45, which aims to provide legal access to recreational cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution, and sale.

The Liberals are on record as saying they hope it receives royal assent before July 2018. Numerous studies cite marijuana as one of the most abused drugs across the world. The Liberal call for its legalization has a significant impact on governments, businesses, and individuals.

In an August 1, 2016, opinion piece, Richard Berman of The Washington Times wrote:

Proponents like the Drug Policy Alliance claim that legalization should occur partially for “health” reasons. The Marijuana Policy Project has called pot “harmless.” Others say it is “safe” and even “healthy.” Nearly all proponents seem to deny or minimize its risks. Popular culture reinforces this view portraying use generally as a risk-free endeavor. And big business looking to cash in on legalization is all too happy to propagate this claim.

But here’s the problem: This view is out of step with the medical literature. In fact, a scientific consensus exists that marijuana has serious health implications—even for casual users.

Despite marijuana gaining greater acceptance in our society, it is important for people to understand what is known about the adverse health effects and extenuating implications of its use in a society. Parliamentarians, in particular, are entrusted with the health and well-being of Canadians and should not overlook these risks.

Recreational marijuana has a very different use from the already legal medicinal marijuana. Recreational marijuana is used with the intention of altering how one feels by achieving an altered state of consciousness by getting high. THC is the main psychoactive or mind-altering chemical in marijuana and the one responsible for the intoxicating effects that people are seeking.

According to an April 2017 paper published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, advancing an addiction science letter to the director:

When marijuana is smoked, THC and other chemicals in the plant pass from the lungs into the bloodstream, which rapidly carries them...[through the bloodstream and into]...the brain. The person begins to experience effects almost immediately....

If...consumed in foods or beverages, these effects are somewhat delayed—usually appearing after 30 minutes to 1 hour—because the drug must first pass through the digestive system.... Because of the delayed effects, people may inadvertently consume more THC than they intend to.

...THC stimulates neurons...to release the...chemical dopamine at levels higher than [attained normally by the human body. It is this assisted]..."high" that...recreational marijuana [users] seek.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine marijuana fact sheet states that pleasant experiences with marijuana are by no means universal:

Instead of relaxation and euphoria, some users [due to their age, previous exposure, and toxicity levels] experience anxiety, fear, distrust and panic.... People who have taken large doses of marijuana may experience an acute psychosis, which can include hallucinations, delusions and a loss of the sense of personal identity.

Richard Berman, The Washington Times writer, goes on to state in his August 1, 2016, report:

According to research published in the medical journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: “Someone who uses marijuana regularly has, on average, less gray matter in his orbital frontal cortex.”

Another study finds that the hippocampus—the part of the brain responsible for long-term memory—is abnormally shaped in daily marijuana users.... Studies show even casual marijuana use causes abnormalities in the density, volume and shape of the brain.

He concludes his argument by stating:

I don’t want to be associated with the fear-mongering “This is your brain; this is your brain on drugs” commercials from last century, but their underlying message was essentially correct.

In January 21, 2014, John Hawkins, a Townhall columnist, wrote:

A recent Northwestern University study found that marijuana users have abnormal brain structure and poor memory and that chronic marijuana abuse may lead to brain changes resembling schizophrenia. The study also reported that the younger the person starts using marijuana, the worse the effects become.

Marijuana has been shown time and again to distort perception and impair short-term memory and judgment. This reality played out in an even larger legal recreation forum has major future implications for our youth, industry, and government institutions, and the above seems to be just the start of our concerns.

In addition to the various mental health studies cited above, we cannot overlook physical health as well, specifically lung health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that because of how it is typically smoked, with deeper inhale and held for longer, marijuana smoking leads to four times the deposition of tar compared to cigarette smoking. Believe me, I am not suggesting that cigarette smoking is a better choice. Further, it stated that people who frequently smoke marijuana had more outpatient medical visits for respiratory problems than those who do not smoke. It states:

Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke is an irritant to the throat and lungs and can cause a heavy cough during use. It also contains levels of volatile chemicals and tar that are similar to tobacco smoke, raising concerns about risk for cancer and lung disease.

Marijuana smoking is associated with large airway inflammation, increased airway resistance, and lung hyperinflation, and those who smoke marijuana regularly report more symptoms of chronic bronchitis than those who do not smoke....

Marijuana smoke contains carcinogenic combustion products, including about 50 percent more benzoprene and 75 percent more benzanthracene...than cigarette smoke.

In short, marijuana smoking is terrible for one's physical health. It is even more toxic than cigarette smoke with the side effects manifesting themselves much earlier than found in tobacco users. In addition to lung health concerns, there is also concern for the effect of second-hand smoke and ingestion. Here is just one example of what I mean. We are all aware of the horrendous effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and how it has wracked our society. The same alarm bells can also be raised on marijuana use during and after pregnancy. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study published on December 11, 2013, states:

Smoking tobacco or marijuana, taking prescription painkillers, or using...drugs during pregnancy is associated with double or even triple the risk of stillbirth, according to research funded by the National Institutes of Health.

I note that the previous speaker commented on some of the health concerns and also talked about packaging and what would be on that packaging for adults purchasing it. I did not hear about anything on that packaging that would indicate any of the health concerns that we are mentioning here today. The American Society of Addiction Medicine marijuana-use fact sheet says two alarming facts that parliamentarians need to take particular note of:

Brain development may be negatively affected by THC exposure very early in life. Research in rats suggests that exposure to even low concentrations of THC late in pregnancy could have profound and long-term consequences for both brain development and behavior of offspring.

Evidence from human studies shows that pregnant women who use marijuana have babies that respond differently to visual stimuli, tremble more and have a high-pitched cry, suggesting problems with neurological development.

Although laws will be put in place respecting age restrictions for the drug, we are all not so naive in this day and age as to expect that, with increased accessibility, those younger and below the legal age will not also access it. The April 2017 National Institute on Drug Abuse study raised additional concern for increased potential for youth exposure to the drug:

Considerable evidence suggests that students who smoke marijuana have poorer educational outcomes than their nonsmoking peers. For example, a review of 48 relevant studies found marijuana use to be associated with reduced educational attainment.... A recent analysis using data from three large studies in Australia and New Zealand found that adolescents who used marijuana regularly were significantly less likely than their non-using peers to finish high school or obtain a degree. They also had a much higher chance of developing dependence, using other drugs, and attempting suicide.

In the face of these revelations, for my fellow Liberal parliamentarians to want to rush to legalize this drug by July 2018 is deeply concerning.

Whose needs are truly being met here? As Townhall columnist John Hawkins further states:

Movies portray potheads as harmless, fun-loving people who spend their time giggling and munching Cheetos, but they don't show these people when they are flunking out of school, losing their jobs, frustrated because they can't concentrate or losing the love of their lives because [of their addictions].

Denver Post writer, Joanne Davidson, wrote, and quotes Dr. Drew Pinsky in a September 19, 2014, article:

Make no mistake, says addictions specialist Drew Pinsky, marijuana is addictive—and the earlier one starts to use it, the greater the consequences. “It acts like an opiate and causes severe addiction,” Pinsky said during a Colorado visit this week. “It affects the white matter of the brain, and for kids who start using marijuana when they are 12, or even younger, those bad consequences tend not to reverse.”

Do we need that to deal with as well?

It is not lost on anyone here that potency levels are a lot higher than they were 20 to 40 years ago. Not only are legalization alarm bells being raised by our respected health and youth institutions but also by industry.

As Tim Bradley writes in his October 2016 article, “No, We Should Not Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use”:

Some argue that marijuana use is merely a private vice—if it is a vice at all—and that it does not have much of an effect on others. But...private acts of vice can imperil important public interests when the private acts begin to multiply.

No one sits down to smoke a joint hoping to avoid getting high. No one ever seeks out a seller and says, “I want some marijuana, but not enough to get high on.” Even those who might try marijuana experimentally are intending to get high.

With legalization of this drug will come increased use by our workforce and with that, unintended consequences and costs for others, with increased risks for injury or accidents.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, in April 2017, said:

One study among postal workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana on pre-employment urine drug tests had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries, and 75 percent greater absenteeism compared with those who tested negative for marijuana use.

On February 17, 2017, on CBC News, Newfoundland and Labrador Radio One, Stephanie Kinsella interviewed Dan Demers, an occupational health operations manager at CannAmm Occupational Testing Services. It is well reported that detectable amounts of THC remain in the body for days or even weeks after use. Mr. Demers states:

Marijuana and dangerous activities, safety-sensitive duties, can't mix. The issue is, the use the night before work actually affects performance the next morning.... reaction time and depth perception can be affected even if someone uses marijuana the night before. If you're working at heights in the construction industry, your ability, for instance, to take into account somebody beside you, their facial expression changed because something is falling, the part of the brain that's responsible for recognizing facial expressions gets impeded for over 12 hours....

It's going to become much easier to access and there's going to be less cultural stigma towards it...

Which is what will happen,

... and the consequence is we're going to see it more frequently on our roadways, more frequently on our work sites...that's going to have some consequences.

Mr. Demers is right in citing this concern. According to a May 10 2017, CBC News report, Saskatoon police handed out over $18,000 in speeding tickets to 50 drivers in construction zones in one day over two hours. That is a lot of workers lives needlessly already in danger, without additional marijuana impairments added to the mix.

When speaking to industry stakeholders in my own constituency, similar concerns are being levelled. As Dean Beeby, senior reporter for the CBC Parliamentary Bureau, notes in a March 15, 2017 article:

“More stoned workers will be showing up in Canada's workplaces with the coming legalization of marijuana, but companies have few tools to cope with potential safety risks.... We're caught in a potential Catch 22: how do you protect the worker and those around them as well as deal with legalized marijuana?” said Cameron MacGillivray, president of Enform, a Calgary-based oil-and-gas safety group. “It is a pressing concern for the industry because of the...catastrophic impacts of somebody doing a critical safety job when they're impaired.” The Liberal government is expected to introduce legislation by the summer making recreational marijuana legal, at a time when the science of detecting and measuring impairment is incomplete.

Even more disturbing is a news development cited, on April 17, 2017, in The Globe and Mail, in an article by Robert Weir and Adam Pennell, “How Canada’s marijuana legislation will affect employers”. It says:

In the meantime, Canadian employers have questions about how to respond to this changing legal landscape. This uncertainty also extends, to a somewhat lesser degree, to the Canadian judicial system. Coincidentally, on April 3, 2017, an Ontario Superior Court judge declined to grant an injunction striking down a random drug testing policy sought by the union representing employees of the Toronto Transit Commission.

Think about that. With legalization, what challenges will existing employee protection laws be under? It is alarming to think that safety laws are already starting to be questioned and challenged. Although marijuana users will be subject to similar rules as alcohol users, the propensity of THC to remain in the system and impair judgment long after use remains in play.

The article goes on to say:

...section 25 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that employers take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker. Safety-sensitive positions, such as those involving the operation of heavy machinery, may include essential duties or requirements that create safety concerns when a proposed accommodation plan includes marijuana use.

Right now, workers' compensation rates for Saskatchewan for injury time losses are down. What toll on these otherwise encouraging statistics, personal and economic, will legalized marijuana have in this instance? We need to think about the added time and cost for both small and large businesses to monitor marijuana toxicity in their work sites. As well, there are looming safety implications for workers in industries like Alberta's oil sands plants and Saskatchewan's potash industry, industries that require thousands of operators a day to run some of the largest equipment on earth. I have to shudder at how at ease the Liberal government is putting this additional weight on our industry stakeholders to fulfill a poorly thought through election promise to garner the votes of a special interest group. Is that the priority of the Liberal government? Is this worth putting at risk the health and safety of Canadians impacted by illness, addiction, injuries, and death on our roads and in the Canadian workforce?

Two junior high boys stopped me on the street while I was campaigning for the election and asked if I was supporting the guy who wants to legalize marijuana. The response to my “No, definitely not”, was “Good, we don't want that in our town.”

At every school I have visited since becoming the MP for Yorkton—Melville, classrooms have always asked why the government wants to legalize marijuana. These concerned young people told me that they know doing so will increase access, use, and negative repercussions for their generation. I share their concern with the government today, and on their behalf, indicate that the common sense and concern they have toward this issue is refreshing and affirming and should be heeded by the government.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's remarks. She did lay out quite a number of good facts, but the sentiment of her remarks is this: that attitude is burying one's head in the sand in terms of what the reality out there in the world is today. That is what it really is, burying her head in the sand about the reality of what is happening out there today. They are good facts, and we have a problem in terms of marijuana use we have to deal with. What is the best way to deal with that?

If members ask young teenagers who are in school, or 11- or 12-year-olds, which it is easier to gain access to, legal liquor or illegal marijuana, if they are being honest, they will answer illegal marijuana. By legalizing marijuana, we will know what the strength of the marijuana is. We are establishing education programs to talk about its dangers. We are controlling the product. We are moving to set up roadside testing.

Is the member burying her head in the sand, or is she looking at the reality of the world and what legalization can do in improving and lessening marijuana use, ensuring that it is a safer product, and having an education system to take it out of the hands of young people?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, talk about burying one's head in the sand. This is before us today because the Liberal government made a promise, one of a gazillion, to simply gather the vote of a particular group. I can assure the member that when I hear the Minister of Health saying that we need to legalize marijuana because 30% of 20- to 24-year-olds are using, the rationale is—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

I'm sorry, your minister said 30%.

The reality is that the government somehow thinks that if it legalizes this drug, it is going to be used less. I have worked in addiction circles. I have individuals who are very near and dear to me, and I can assure members that they know that legalizing this drug will not keep it out of the hands of young children. As a matter of fact, they are the ones telling me that this will not be the case.

Clearly, this is not a good move for the young people in our society. It is not a good move for adults who want to use it. When the government says what will be on the package, there is no reference to what we know are the dangers of this particular drug. The education the government is suggesting it is going to have will not even come out before it makes it legal in our communities. It is very disconcerting.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:35 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Yorkton—Melville very clearly laid out some of the concerns that still exist in society, and that is why we in the NDP have taken the strong position that on this road to legalization, the government must be very clear and must have the resources to make sure we have that public awareness and that public health approach.

When I was listening to the facts and figures, it seemed to me that the member was building a stronger argument against the status quo, because if there are a high number of youth using it in an unregulated system that is illegal, where we cannot keep track of it and have a public health approach, it seems to be an argument against the status quo, and we need to move beyond that.

I want to reference something for the member. What prevents people from getting the help they need is the stigma attached to using drugs when they are criminalized. I will point out the example of Portugal. Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs in 2001, now has a rate of overdose deaths of three for every one million citizens. That compares to about 44 in the United Kingdom, where drugs are illegal. By removing that stigma, perhaps we can take a more public health approach and encourage people to get the help they need without fear of being criminalized for their actions.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that legalizing any of these drugs does not mean that our health system will better deal with it. Why is our health system not dealing with it now? Why do we need to legalize it? Why do we need to regulate the height of a plant in a house and how many there are? Who is going to do that? No one is going to be doing that. There is no way the government has the amount of money it needs to set up a regulation system like that. It is going to be in homes and available to children, children who never thought about using it in the past. It will be there, and they are going to be tempted to use it. This is not the approach we should be taking. If we are serious as parliamentarians about the health and safety of Canadians, this is not the route to take.

One individual talked about brown packaging somehow making it less appealing. Why are we not doing that with beer or wine products? We do not do that. It does not make a difference. I can assure everyone that from the interactions I have with youth in my communities, access to these drugs is available to them now, and the government will not have the money it needs to compete, because it is overextending itself in every direction.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 8:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a father of three children and a grandfather of nine, I can say without question that I am very concerned about the direction the government is going. The government claims to be basing its decisions on science-based evidence, and so on, but clearly, science is not on its side on this one.

The Canadian Medical Association has been very clear in its recommendations. In fact, just this week, Dr. Diane Kelsall, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said, “Simply put, cannabis should not be used by young people.” She provided a number of statistics and then said, “If Parliament truly cares about the public health and safety of Canadians, especially our youth, this bill will not pass.” I wonder how my colleague would respond to that.