Cannabis Act

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

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

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 18, 2018 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to 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 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

May 30th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have introduced Bill C-45. It is an evidence-based piece of legislation that seeks to put in a complex regime to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis in this country. It is based on a substantive task force report. The task force travelled across the country and received over 30,000 submissions with respect to how we can put in place a complex regime for legalization.

In terms of evidence on the legal age for being able to access a legal supply of cannabis, this was something the task force weighed in on with respect to the necessity of protecting the health and safety of young people and recognition of the impacts there may be on brain development. We had to balance that reality with another reality, which is that the greatest number of individuals who are currently smoking or using cannabis are young people. We had to balance the two realities in terms of our position with respect to legalization and regulation.

With respect to homegrown cannabis and having four plants one metre high, this legislation would provide the ability to grow cannabis in one's home, recognizing that people would, as they do with prescription drugs or alcohol, provide security and safety measures so that young people, who may or may not live in that home or access that home, would be protected against having access to those—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear in the minister's speech on Bill C-45 that she noted that criminal prohibition is not working and is indeed failing. She also noted that the majority of Canadians support the end of criminal prohibition and punishment. Indeed, going back to the Liberal platform of 2015, it noted that, “arresting and prosecuting these offences is expensive for our criminal justice system. It traps too many Canadians in the criminal justice system for minor, non-violent offenses.”

The Liberals have repeatedly said that they want to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to keep cannabis out of the hands of kids and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals. I accept that. I do not think the minister will find any argument in this House against that.

In the minister's preamble, she seems to have made a very strong case for decriminalization. She has acknowledged the harms criminal prohibition and punishment do to our society, particularly to youth and racialized Canadians.

The government has now been in power for almost 20 months. Many regimes around the world have instituted decriminalization quite well. I still have not heard a good argument from the Liberal government as to why it will not institute this as a good interim measure on the road to legalization.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for reiterating why we are introducing this legislation. We are committed to legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis. The reason, as the member clearly articulated, is to keep it out of the hands of children and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals. By simply decriminalizing right now, we would not be able to achieve those objectives. That is why we are working very diligently, benefiting from the substantive input we received from the task force and Canadians right across the country, to ensure that we put in place, working with the provinces, territories, and municipalities, this complex regime for the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis. That is what we are focused on. We are very hopeful that this legislation will move through the parliamentary process and that we will have a legal regime in this country to achieve the objectives I stated in my remarks: keeping cannabis out of the hands of kids; keeping the proceeds out of the hands of criminals; and ensuring that for minor possession offences, we are not criminalizing young people and adults.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. justice minister says is very nice, but it does not accurately reflect what is in the bill, specifically with respect to keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth. With respect to the four plants in the household, if the minister would refer to poisoning data, she would see that kids eat plants all the time, because their parents do not put them up in the cupboard. In addition, we also have a provision in this bill to allow 12- to 17-year-olds to have up to five grams of cannabis, which I understand is about 10 joints. Does the minister not agree that this would put cannabis in the hands of youth? In fact, they would probably become the drug mules at the school.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear. There is nothing in Bill C-45 that would provide the legal ability for young people under the age of 18 to access cannabis.

In terms of the four plants that the member referenced, as I noted in the previous question, it is certainly necessary and the responsibility of adults in the home to take precautionary measures to prevent young people from gaining access to plants, as they do for alcohol or prescription drugs.

In terms of the five-gram limit that the hon. member mentioned, this is so as not to criminalize young people for possibly having less than five grams of cannabis in their possession. We are working very closely with the provinces and territories, encouraging them to put in place offences in terms of possession of less than five grams for young people, along the same lines as what happens with alcohol.

We are going to continue to have these conversations with the provinces and territories to ensure that we are covering all of our bases and that this complex regime is put in place and recognizes the differences between and among the different provinces and territories potentially using the permissive nature of the legislation to adapt to their respective jurisdictions, whether it be around age or around home grow.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her speech on Bill C-45. My concern all along, since news of this bill first broke, is that the Liberals have not announced any new funds for prevention.

We are told that the bill is meant to protect young people and their health and to restrict their access to marijuana, but what I am hearing on the ground from youth workers, including the ones working in youth shelters, and those who work with young offenders or in the field of mental health and addictions, as well as teachers, is that more money is needed for prevention.

The government announced less than $2 million a year, and this bill does not even target just marijuana, but all drugs and everything that happens in the area of health. The state of Colorado invested $45 million in 2015 alone for its bill to legalize marijuana.

This bill lacks vision. It trivializes the impact this could have on mental health, social behaviours, and the lives of young people. The minister mentioned that there could be effects on brain development. Scientists are still studying the effects associated with the consumption of various quantities of THC. We need to have the means to match our ambitions. I am hoping to see the government invest more money. The last budget provided nothing for prevention, even though that is crucial—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the question from my hon. colleague across the way in terms of prevention. I could not agree more that our government needs to continue the work we are doing, building on the work of the task force that raised awareness around the legalization and regulation of cannabis. We are ensuring that we are taking a public health and safety approach and that we use the $9.6 million that was mentioned in budget 2017, while also recognizing that we are going to have to continue, and are committed to continuing, to have a broad-based public education campaign that speaks to the detrimental impacts of cannabis on brain development and speaks to the impacts on and relationship to mental illness.

I know my colleague, the Minister of Health, is committed to continuing this discussion. She will be presenting to this hon. House in a couple of days, and I would invite my colleague to ask her about the specific measures. However, this is a firm commitment by our government that, when putting in place a complex regime for the legalization of cannabis and strict regulation, we will do the necessary work to ensure that we are communicating effectively and providing the education measures that are required for Canadians to understand the regime we are putting in place.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to share some thoughts regarding Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.

Essentially the bill proposes to regulate and legalize the production, possession, use, and distribution of marijuana across Canada. The government is on record saying it wants to implement this by July of next year. The government's decision to move hastily on such an important piece of legislation concerns me.

Let me be clear, this marijuana bill will have far-reaching impacts on every part of our society. It is imperative that before proceeding with the significant changes to the Criminal Code, a thorough debate takes place in the House for all members who wish to speak.

I would like to take a minute to outline some of the areas of concern that I have with the legislation. One of the major issues I have with the legislation is the fact that it will be putting children at risk of having much greater access to marijuana. I am sure this concern resonates with parents of young children and teenagers. While the government has consistently touted that one of its objectives is to prevent young people from accessing cannabis, in reality the bill does just the opposite.

Clauses 8 and 9 of the legislation are a perfect example. These provisions state that it is prohibited for an individual to possess or distribute more than four cannabis plants that are not budding or flowering. This means that it will be legal for people to grow at least four marijuana plants inside their homes. I do not know of any easier way, and I said that in my question, for children to access marijuana than in that way.

Unlike prescription pills, which people can put away, marijuana plants, by definition, have to be out in the open. I cannot imagine any easier way for children to get hold of marijuana than when their parents are starting to grow it in the kitchen.

My concerns for children and teenagers do not end there. Let us consider the dangers for young people who may come in contact with marijuana edibles. This is an issue that is not properly addressed in Bill C-45. I have seen photographs, as I am sure other members have, of these edibles. They are indistinguishable from candy treats or baked goods that are often found on the kitchen counter, in the kitchen cupboard, or even in a cookie jar, enticing prizes for young children. They are so convincing that an adult could mistake a pot edible for the real thing.

The possible health risks for children ingesting these kinds of edibles cannot be underestimated. According to health care professionals, such as Dr. Robert Glatter, the consumption of multiple servings of edibles at one time, for any age group, results in various potential psychological effects, not to mention the possibility of over-sedation, anxiety, or psychosis. Ingesting multiple servings in a short time span can also produce intense anxiety, paranoia, and even psychosis. These adverse side effects are more frequent among first-time users.

If these are the health risks that affect adults ingesting edibles, one can only imagine the danger they pose to children who are almost certainly going to be first-time users. In fact, experts from the Department of Justice have attested that edibles pose significant risks to the health of children. Clearly, the entirely plausible chance that children may accidentally ingest these edibles deserves a more careful examination by the members of the House.

Another illogical aspect of the legislation that the government must address is the ambiguous rules regarding the quantity of marijuana that children may legally possess. As we have heard, according to Bill C-45, paragraph 8(1)(c), children under the age of 18 are prohibited from possessing the equivalent of five grams of marijuana or more.

What happens when a 12-year-old uses or distributes cannabis to his peers on the playgrounds, every day, with no questions asked? This is a lax approach. How can the government ensure that children and teenagers will not be recruited by organized crime? I can see that is what is going to happen. On a simpler front, is it safer to be in possession of four grams of cannabis or five, or is the safest quantity the possession and distribution of zero grams? That is what our party would support.

The Liberals will tell Canadians that four grams is okay but the Conservatives, on the other hand, are firm in our conviction that zero grams is the only safe amount for our children.

The cannabis act is replete with arbitrary cut-offs that do nothing to protect our children from the dangers of marijuana. In fact, we believe they expose them to greater risk. Canadians deserve clarity when it comes to legislation that will significantly affect so many aspects of our justice, health, and public safety systems, and more important, their daily lives and families. It is not enough, I would like to point out, to say we are going to shove all these things over to the province and let them figure it out. There is a responsibility for the federal government to get it right.

If all these problems with accessibility alone were not sufficient to highlight the shortcomings of Bill C-45, please note that the Prime Minister and his government proposed that the legal age to purchase marijuana be 18 years of age. For a government that claims to espouse and produce evidence-based policy, this provision is clearly off the mark. All we have to do is ask any doctor, health organization, or health expert. For one, the scientific evidence overwhelmingly confirms that the human brain does not fully develop until individuals reach their mid-twenties.

The Canadian Medical Association, as I have pointed out, has already warned the government that the use of cannabis may have significant psychological impacts on brain development up to the age of 25, and recommends that 21 be the youngest acceptable age to legalize the purchase of marijuana. Indeed, the position of the Canadian Paediatric Society likewise urges the government to consider the dangers of so young an age to purchase marijuana. Again, the government keeps talking about protecting children but it completely ignores the evidence. Indeed, the co-author of that position paper, Dr. Christina Grant, has stated, at the very least, the levels of THC must be limited until after the age of 25 to be considered safe for brain health.

Once again, Bill C-45 lacks crucial information. Why are the Liberals ignoring this crucial scientific information, information that has a tangible impact on the health and best interests of Canadians? It is not enough to say we are ignoring all the evidence and let the provinces figure this out. That is not good enough.

Further, while drafting the legislation, the Liberal government had plenty of time to study the impact of marijuana legalization in several jurisdictions in the United States. Instead of learning from the mistakes and challenges that have befallen these states, the government decided to ram the legislation through. Again, this will be a complete detriment to Canadians.

I will give members a couple of examples of what we are talking about.

First is the fact that our American counterparts have found an increase in impaired driving following the legalization of marijuana in certain jurisdictions. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice found that on Colorado roads, during the year following legalization of marijuana, there has been a 32% increase in deaths related to marijuana-impaired driving. That is completely unacceptable.

There is little doubt that Canadians will see a similar increase of drug-impaired driving if marijuana is legalized. In fact, statistics have already shown that this is a serious problem. According to the Canadian student tobacco, alcohol and drugs survey, nearly one in five Canadian high school students have been a passenger in a car whose driver had recently smoked marijuana.

Canadians of all ages are very confused about the many existing myths regarding smoking and driving. For example, in a 2014 poll, 32% of Canadian teens believed that driving high is less dangerous than driving drunk. The perpetuation of this kind of thinking will have serious consequences. A report prepared by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse states that Canadians 16 to 19 years of age are more likely to drive two hours after ingesting marijuana than they would be two hours after drinking.

The World Health Organization, on the other hand, has been clear in debunking this myth. It has stated:

Evidence suggests that recent cannabis smoking is associated with substantial driving impairment, particularly in occasional smokers, with implications for work in safety-sensitive positions or when operating a means of transportation, including aircraft.... Complex human/machine performance can be impaired as long as 24 hours after smoking a moderate dose of cannabis and the user may be unaware of the drug's influence....

In light of this information, Bill C-45 does not provide sufficient avenues to educate young people about the undeniable danger of driving high. Should the government insist on ramming this legislation through, it should seriously take into account the importance of public awareness campaigns in protecting young people.

Ultimately, actions speak louder than words, and legalizing marijuana sends the wrong message to young Canadians that pot is a benign judge, that it is not a cause for concern. In reality, the government cannot guarantee that more children and teenagers will not be injured in motor vehicle accidents, if not worse, as a result of increased access to marijuana. This, beyond doubt, is something the government should have considered seriously before trying to ram this bill through Parliament in an attempt to live up to a campaign promise.

Another important and threatening problem facing jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana is the increase in cannabis-related hospitalizations. We have already established the research that proves marijuana can have dangerous effects on children's brain development and overall health.

In Colorado, these studies have had far-reaching and tangible consequences. According to a recent report by the Colorado Department of Health, hospitalization involving patients with marijuana exposure and diagnosis tripled from around 803 per 100,000 between 2001 and 2009 to 2,413 per 100,000 after marijuana was legalized. That is about three times as many people who were hospitalized. This serves as a cautionary guideline for how children will be impacted by easy access and exposure to pot.

A report by the Rocky Mountain HIDTA states, “the number of Colorado children who’ve been reported to a poison control center or examined at a hospital for unintentional marijuana exposure annually has spiked since the state legalized recreational cannabis...”

These statistics are not inconsequential. Once again, why has the government ignored the lessons our peers have faced after legalizing marijuana? Answers to these challenges are certainly not found in Bill C-45.

The gaping holes in the legislation are indisputable. If homegrown marijuana plants are permitted, coupled with alarming and unanswered questions related to marijuana edibles, children will clearly have easier access to the substance. Given the bill's ambiguity on how much cannabis constitutes an offence, children and teenagers may possess and distribute up to four grams of marijuana with no clear recourse to protect them. Setting the age of majority for marijuana use at 18 promotes a lax approach to brain development and public safety.

Finally, the government's unwillingness to acknowledge the fact that comparable jurisdictions have faced critical health and safety challenges as a result of their similar legalization processes is not only reckless but unfair to Canadians who put their trust in their members of Parliament.

While the risks to children constitute my greatest concern with Bill C-45, there are numerous other problems that go unaddressed in the legislation. One of these is the fact that the bill provides little to no clarity on the degree of flexibility that the government will allocate to provincial governments and municipal law enforcement to implement this. Additionally, the bill does not sufficiently address the costs for retraining officers given the changes to the Criminal Code.

Moreover, the questions surrounding Canada-U.S. border crossings should legalization take place is particularly worrisome to me, as my constituents in Niagara Falls live right across from our American neighbours and often have the occasion to travel to the United States. Taking note of the fact that most American border states have not legalized recreational marijuana, the discrepancy in policy could greatly impact, among other things, the waiting time to cross the border.

The former U.S. ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, has expressed his doubts regarding efficiency at the border and the legalization of marijuana. His primary concern is the fact that border patrol dogs are not trained to distinguish marijuana scents from other prohibited items.

He stated:

The dogs are trained to have reactions to certain scents. Some of those scents start with marijuana. Others are something that are significantly more challenging for the border. But the dog doesn't tell you this is marijuana and this is an explosive...

The dog reacts, and these border guards are going to have to appropriately do an investigation. That could slow the border down.

My constituents, and all of the 400,000 Canadians who travel to the United States every day, are deeply concerned about the waiting times and they want them to be as expeditious as possible. How can the government ensure that these delays will not affect Canadian business people, families visiting loved ones or even Canada-U.S. relations writ large? Bill C-45 is silent on yet another consideration for Canadians.

It is evident that the government has been too hasty in its attempt to push through this legislation without consideration of all the risks to children, confusion surrounding implementation, and delays in border crossings. This complex issue could result in insurmountable health and safety burdens in the years to come.

As such, I urge my fellow members to take the significant problems with the legislation into consideration.

To conclude, I move that the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, since the bill makes homegrown marijuana more accessible to children.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have much respect for my colleague, but I would like to highlight a number of flawed assumptions with his interpretation of Bill C-45.

The first is that somehow children will have lawful access to cannabis. I want to assure the hon. colleague that Bill C-45 would in no way allow any lawful access to cannabis to youth.

The second is that children will somehow be allowed to traffic cannabis. Of course, Bill C-45 would not permit that and it would certainly not permit adults to use youth to traffic cannabis. In fact, we are proposing a higher maximum sentence, a 14-year sentence, which is an improvement from the current regime.

The most important flawed assumption he made was that somehow the status quo was working with respect to cannabis, when all of the evidence and all of the efforts put in by the independent task force demonstrated it was not.

Is that not the trouble with the Conservatives' approach to law and order? They ignore evidence, they somehow continue to introduce unconstitutional laws, which have been struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada, like mandatory minimums, and they show no faith in our courts, which are situated best to provide justice and safety to all Canadians.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I put a question to the Minister of Justice at the justice committee just a couple of weeks ago, and the hon. member will probably remember this. I asked her what would happen to the child who had four grams of marijuana. We made the point that the bill specifically said that a person could not have more than five grams. What if someone has two or three grams? Will this not be very helpful to people who love to sell drugs around schools? They will tell the young people to be careful, that they should not take more than five grams with them. They will give them four grams, ask them to sell that, and come back to see them.

Again, the hon. member said that we did not respect the justice system for everything else. That is the point. Does he want to ignore the evidence with respect to impaired driving? He should check it out in Colorado and in all of the different jurisdictions. Once they legalized marijuana, the impaired driving as a result of smoking marijuana went up. There has been a 32% increase in deaths in Colorado since it has done that.

Therefore, yes, we are worried about the Criminal Code, the justice system, and the people who are victims of crime. This is one of the things that distinguishes us.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on the parliamentary secretary's line of questioning.

When I read Bill C-45 and I look at the provisions involved with youth, I read it as the five grams acts as a benchmark. I think all hon. members would agree that we want to do everything possible to keep our youth out of the criminal justice system. This is not in any way accepting the fact that they can have marijuana. It is just so it is a ticketable offence so they are not stuck for the rest of their lives with a criminal record. I would like to hear the member's comments in response to that.

I respect the Conservatives. They represent a segment of society that has problems with the bill, but I would agree with the parliamentary secretary and the Liberals. The status quo is not working and the statistics are there to back it up. A criminal law and order approach to this problem has not worked. What do the Conservatives propose as an alternative?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member says that the Conservatives are not worried enough about criminalizing this activity, we are worried about children having access to any marijuana. We are very concerned about that. The health studies, as I pointed out in my speech, point out very clearly the harmful effects that smoking marijuana can have on brain development. One of the things we have pointed out as well is that there is no safe level on this.

I have indicated that we cannot do what the Liberal government has done, which is to dump it all on the provinces. We know what happened to the Liberals. It is like their promise on electoral reform. They did not think it out. They probably thought the NDP would win the election, so they could promise anything, such as new electoral reform, legalized marijuana. These are wonderful things, but then it turned out they ended up in government. Now we can see that the government has not thought this out at all. To say that it will push it through and then the provinces can figure it out is completely unacceptable.

Yes, we are very concerned about that and we are proud of the position we have taken.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1:25 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 do not believe there is anyone in the House who does not care about the safety and the health of our kids and about their outcomes. I believe we all can agree on that. We can also agree that the current system is failing our kids.

The overwhelming evidence is the fact that our kids are using cannabis at a higher rate than any other country in the world and they are getting it from organized crime, from criminals. I do not think it is appropriate, and I do not believe any member of the House believes it is appropriate, that we should leave the health and safety of our children up to criminals. A government has the responsibility to take action.

As the former minister of justice, the member for Niagara Falls is well aware that in every province and territory across the country, issues such as of the purchase and consumption of alcohol are most appropriately under provincial governance and provincial regulations. Every province and territory has a liquor licence act that makes it a provincial offence for minors to possess, purchase, and consume alcohol. That enables law enforcement to enforce an absolute prohibition for young people under the age of adulthood, however it is defined in a province.

Similar measures for cannabis would enable law enforcement to enforce a prohibition in all amounts of cannabis for young people, without subjecting them to a criminal record. I am sure the member opposite would agree that we want to protect the health of our kids. However, as I talk to parents across the country, they are concerned about the health of their kids, about their outcome and that they will get a criminal record. We have a responsibility to address the legitimate concerns all parents have. This legislation is about that.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, on one part, I am not going to challenge the hon. member who said that if the government legalizes it, that the quality of marijuana that our children would be smoking would be increased. Again, I am not happy with any marijuana being smoked by children.

I have to go back to one section of this, and I put this to the hon. member. We are very concerned about the protection of our children from having access. Again, I ask the Minister of Justice this, and I would love to hear from the parliamentary secretary. Is there any easier way to get marijuana than if one's parents and everybody have plants in the kitchen? I cannot imagine. It is not enough just to say that prescription drugs are up in the medicine cabinet and children have access to them. Children can be protected against medical prescriptions, and my colleagues are pointing out ways we can do that. Of course we can.

However, by definition, one has to have plants out there, I guess, in the kitchen by the window to get lots of sun, with lots of exposure to the kids. I cannot understand how the Liberals can be making this point that somehow we are protecting our children here. Guess what: one is only going to get four plants and cannot have 40 plants. One can only have four plants because we are so worried about the health of our children. I say to skip it.

I ask the members of the Liberal Party why not bring a subamendment and get rid of that whole thing about the four plants. Get the plants out of people's houses. Nobody wants that.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for pointing out many of the dangers that all of us are aware of in this House. Certainly, the safety and welfare of our kids is paramount, but also the safety of those who operate heavy equipment or are driving on our roads. These are all concerns that we have.

My colleague clearly pointed out the evidence from the Canadian Medical Association that calls for a minimum age of 21. It would like it to be 25, but in light of the desire to move ahead, it said 21. Just yesterday, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, an editorial by Dr. Diane Kelsall had some great points, but the very last sentence stated, “If Parliament truly cares about the public health and safety of Canadians, especially our youth, this bill will not pass.”

I wonder what my colleague would say to that.