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

June 13th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, there are a couple of factual points I would like to make.

First of all, the legislation says that it would allow Canadians to grow up to four plants per household. The member made a reference to 12 plants; I am not sure where that comes from.

Yes, we on this side of the House do believe that is a reasonable and proper provision of this bill. It was the task force on cannabis legalization headed by Anne McLellan that did an exhaustive examination of this issue, and decided to recommend that Canadians should be able to grow four plants. As the member may know, under the Supreme Court of Canada's decision, Canadians have the constitutional right to grow medicinal cannabis. It would seem quite perverse if the people in one house on a block could grow cannabis legally because they are growing it for medicinal use, and in the house beside it the people were not able to grow it simply because of the different purpose.

I also would point out that every single jurisdiction in the United States, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and California, this year, all permit the growing of marijuana in reasonable limits and with reasonable parameters around it. If we want to have legalization of cannabis in this country, we have to trust Canadians to be able to responsibly use cannabis and to grow plants like any other plant, as long as it is done responsibly and in a reasonable amount.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:30 p.m.
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Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec

Liberal

Marc Miller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Madam Speaker, I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with my colleague and hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

Before I give the formal part of my speech, I would like to start by discussing an element that was brought up by the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, who had spoken about a number of members of the Senate and others as well as the Right Hon. John Turner as to their potential financial interest in legalizing marijuana.

I understand this is an issue of privilege, that members can say what pleases them in this House. However, I found it particularly unparliamentary that the member would raise the record of someone who has served this country with distinction and with honour in talking about the Right Hon. John Turner who was Prime Minister of Canada, and among the positions he occupied he also was the minister of finance and the minister of justice. He is a man of some advanced age, I believe. I would like to wish him a happy birthday; he turned 89 quite recently. I know it on good authority that he has zero interest in the legalization of marijuana or any pecuniary derivative thereof.

I will not presume bad faith on the side of the hon. member, and I hope that when he gets a chance to retract those words he does so because we are in fact talking about a person who served this country honourably, regardless of party lines. I do hope the member takes the chance to retract those comments.

I am pleased to rise in the House today to respond to an amendment adopted by the Senate with regard to Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.

I commend the Senate for the valuable work that it did as part of its in-depth study of Bill C-45. However, I believe that some of the amendments the Senate adopted do not fully support the political objectives of the bill. They may also have unintended consequences.

Take for example, clause 5.2, a new clause that would provide for the following:

For greater certainty, this Act does not affect the operation of any provision of provincial legislation that is more restrictive with respect to, or prohibits, the cultivation, propagation or harvesting of cannabis in a dwelling-house.

Bill C-45 would allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence. Cannabis grown in a dwelling-house could not, under any circumstances, be sold to others, and anyone who grows more than four plants could be criminally charged.

The justification for the proposal to allow Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants per household is twofold. First, this proposal would help displace the illegal cannabis market. Second, it would help prevent the unnecessary criminalization of otherwise law-abiding Canadians who safely and responsibly grow a small number of cannabis plants at home for personal use.

Home cultivation would also create a legal source of cannabis for people who do not have easy access to it through a provincial or territorial store or an online platform, particularly those who live in remote regions.

The proposal to allow people to grow a limited quantity of cannabis for personal use is similar to the current provisions regarding tobacco and alcohol. Canadians can legally grow their own tobacco or brew their own beer at home for personal use.

We can also trust Canadians to properly store cannabis, just as they safely store their prescription drugs at home in a responsible manner.

I would also like to point out that in the national cannabis survey, one of the questions the government asked was where people currently get their cannabis and where they thought they might be able to access it in the future. Of all the respondents who use cannabis, only 2% had thought of cultivating it for personal use.

The home cultivation our government is proposing is based on the opinion of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation, and is in line with the frameworks adopted by most of the American states that have chosen to legalize and regulate cannabis for non-medical purposes, particularly Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada and Alaska.

Those states allow home cultivation and have limits regarding the number of plants that can be grown, ranging from four to 12 plants per household. It is important to remember that Bill C-45 was designed to allow the provinces and territories to oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis within their borders and to add additional restrictions regarding certain aspects that are not proposed in the federal cannabis legislation, such as personal cultivation, if they wish.

That flexibility is there so they can adapt their laws in response to local realities and priorities in a way that is compatible with the public health and public safety goals in the proposed cannabis legislation.

The Government of Canada believes that the provinces and territories are in the best position to determine whether they need such restrictions and to establish tougher regulations. Most of the provinces do allow home cultivation of four plants as set out in Bill C-45. However, some provinces have already chosen to include restrictions in their legislation. For example, New Brunswick requires cannabis cultivated outdoors to be surrounded by a locked enclosure. Indoor cultivation must take place in a separate, locked space. Alberta would allow indoor cultivation only, and Nova Scotia has indicated that it would allow landlords to prohibit cannabis cultivation and smoking in rental units.

If someone decided to challenge a provision of a provincial cannabis law, a court would review the provincial system in its entirety, along with the federal cannabis law. It would then be up to the court to determine whether there was a conflict or whether the objectives of the federal legislation had been frustrated.

Over the past two years, our government has carried out extensive consultations and studies to support this bill. In this way, we have developed the best possible measures for protecting all Canadians, especially young Canadians.

Bill C-45 is largely based on the recommendations of the task force I mentioned earlier, which were formulated based on the opinions and expertise gathered through the extensive consultations. The bill reflects and balances the broad array of opinions from the provinces and territories, municipalities, communities, indigenous governments, and a wide range of experts and stakeholders.

The provincial and territorial governments developed their own legislation based on this insightful framework, and their investments and preparations for the establishment of retail systems are well under way.

Bill C-45 proposes to allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants at home. It is essential to allow home cultivation in order to support the government's objective of displacing the illegal market.

The government is proposing a national approach to home cultivation designed to allow this activity to be achieved in a way that takes into account the valuable comments received from countless stakeholders. Although the framework for legalization includes some flexibility for setting certain restrictions on home cultivation, we are of the opinion that this amendment is inconsistent with that approach.

However, as we know, the bill contains a provision to review the cannabis act. Under that provision, three years after the coming into force, the minister will have to ensure that the act and its application are reviewed. Our government is proposing to amend that provision in order to specify that the review in question will include a review of the impacts of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house. Our government is committed to carefully examining the findings of such a review.

Based on the evidence currently before us, we are fully convinced that home cultivation can be done in such a way that is compatible with the health and public safety objectives of the bill. It constitutes a reasonable way to allow adults to grow cannabis for personal use, and that approach squares with the opinion of the task force and the approach adopted by most of the American states that have legalized and regulated cannabis.

For those reasons, I will not be supporting this amendment.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Surrey explained to me where the 12 comes from. People are allowed to have four mature plants, four immature plants, and four plants that are just being planted.

If somebody with a prescription for marijuana is growing four plants, and someone else in the household does not have a prescription, does that mean they are allowed eight plants, which is really 24 plants? People are not supposed to share prescriptions with other people. If there is another person in the house with a different prescription for medical marijuana, would that person be allowed four plants, which is really 12, and then there would be 36 in the house?

I just want to know how this is going to work. I think that multiplication is even right with Liberal gun registry math.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:40 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to read into the record exactly what I said earlier that seemed to have offended the member's feelings.

I said, “An emerging group...of cannabis capitalists...composed of the same police officers and government officials who have spent years prosecuting the war on drugs, has already begun staking its claim to the new recreational market.”

“Some prominent names include: Kim Derry, who served as the deputy chief when the current Liberal member for Scarborough Southwest... was Toronto police chief. He is now the security adviser for THC Meds Ontario. Former Ontario Liberal deputy premier, George Smitherman, who once served as the province's health minister“ is also tied to the the same company. “Former Liberal Prime Minister John Turner is a board member for Muileboom Organics, Inc, Chuck Rifici founded Tweed Cannabis Inc., the country's first licensed provider to go public while he was chief financial officer of the Liberal Party of Canada....Julian Fantino, who once compared cannabis to murder and voted in favour of harsh mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis as a member of the Harper cabinet, has now gone into the cannabis business.”

“It is a travesty of justice and hypocrisy of the highest order that those who fought hardest for legalization may benefit the least from it, while those who spent a lifetime enforcing prohibition are now lining up to fill the boardrooms of the cannabis industry.”

I would like my hon. colleague to answer this. What was wrong with any of that? What is inaccurate? Why did John Turner, when he was prime minister, not legalize cannabis if he now thinks that he should be on the board of directors of a company and profit from it?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Miller Liberal Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, QC

Madam Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that he is speaking about a former prime minister, the Right hon. John Turner, who served this country honourably and in a very distinguished fashion. I see absolutely no remorse on the member's part, so I feel no particular compulsion or need to answer any further questions, which are quite leading.

I would encourage the member to examine his conscience a little more in-depth and show a little remorse and respect for the House, and respect for a former distinguished prime minister, and distinguished cabinet minister, both in finance and justice. The member should take a little time and think about what he just said.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Marc Miller Liberal Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, QC

Madam Speaker, if the member opposite examines the fiscal framework that we have been discussing with the provinces, she will note that we will be taking none of profits for personal use but investing it into fighting a lot of the ills that the consumption of cannabis has caused, including ensuring that youth know about the ills of consuming cannabis, particularly the effect on the immature brain.

We will be giving 75% to provinces and municipalities to ensure that they address the issue, because they are in a good position to address it, and that they put it through their streams to ensure youth, in particular, know of the ills of consuming cannabis.

Bill C-45—Notice of time allocation motionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Madam Speaker, I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the consideration of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts. Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose, at the next sitting, a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Bill C-45—Notice of time allocation motionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

I will read it into the record in English, Madam Speaker.

I would like to advise that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the consideration of certain amendments to Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Consideration of Senate AmendmentsCannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2018 / 11:50 p.m.
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Vancouver Quadra B.C.

Liberal

Joyce Murray LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to the message from the other place on Bill C-45. Before I start my remarks on that, I want to say that this is a historic time. I am very proud of this legislation, this change in social policy that we are making as a government.

If we reflect on what it is like to go out for dinner with friends and have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner, and we think about the fact that there was a time when that was illegal, when the provision of alcohol was controlled by the criminal underworld, and when the act of partaking in alcohol was a crime, it is almost impossible to imagine that this made sense in an earlier period, and it certainly does not make sense to us today. In the same way, in the future we will be looking back at a time when cannabis was illegal, criminalized, and purveyed by criminal gangs. In a future day, the public in Canada will not be able to imagine how that could have made sense. In fact, it does not make sense. That is why I am so proud of what we are doing today.

It does not make sense because it has not worked. Having the use of cannabis deemed a criminal matter, as opposed to a health and safety matter, makes no sense. It creates massive profits for the Hells Angels and other organized criminals. It provides no safety with respect to what might be in the content of the product that is being consumed or what might be harmful. Members should make no mistake: It is being consumed, notwithstanding the fact that it is an illegal activity, a criminalized activity. Our young people are using this product at higher rates than virtually anywhere in the world. Therefore, it is far past time to take the control and regulation out of the hands of the criminal underworld, which has been profiting from it, and place them in the hands of government, where health and safety aspects can actually be addressed by the government.

That is exactly why, in 2011, after the election, I began this discussion in Ottawa with Liberal colleagues, saying that I think it is time we address the situation and, as a party, consider legalizing marijuana. I had the privilege of bringing a film called The Union, a documentary about the control of cannabis by the criminal underworld and all the negative aspects of that for our society: the shootouts in open streets in broad daylight in our cities when there were gang wars; the drawing into criminal activity of young people, who were being recruited by the gangs to be part of their distribution network; and the hundreds of thousands of young Canadians who ended up in the justice system because of their involvement with cannabis.

Therefore, it is with great pride and humility that I want to acknowledge Parliament and the government for what we are doing here. This is a historic time. I have to say that in 2011 it looked pretty impossible. However, our Prime Minister took the bull by the horns and made this commitment in our last election platform, and we have proceeded with this project.

I am now going to talk about some of the details of implementation so that we do this as best as we possibly can as a Parliament and a government.

As others have already pointed out, both houses of Parliament have conducted extensive studies of the proposed cannabis act. In the other place, Bill C-45 was studied by five different committees, which heard from over 200 experts and witnesses. Four of those committees conducted an in-depth study of specific aspects of the legislation and its implications. They carefully assessed issues related to criminal law provisions, indigenous persons, international obligations, and Canada's borders. I want to add my voice to those who have acknowledged this important contribution, and to thank the other place for its extensive work on this bill.

The study of this proposed legislation by Parliament built on extensive work by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. In 2016, after the previous election, the task force undertook extensive consultations to hear from Canadians; public health experts; law enforcement; provincial, territorial, and municipal governments; indigenous organizations; U.S. state governments with more experience administering cannabis regimes; and more.

The proposed act was developed largely on the basis of the thoughtful advice of this task force, and the act has been carefully designed to support the policy objectives stated in clause 7. It was carefully designed to ensure that its provisions would comply with privacy and other obligations and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For these reasons, the amendments proposed by the other place had to be very carefully reviewed and assessed on the basis of whether they would support the bill's policy objectives and could have unintended consequences. Based on this review, it is clear that some amendments, in fact the majority of the amendments brought forward,would further improve the bill, and they support its objectives. Others are problematic.

For example, the amendment that would further clarify the requirements and the scope of the legislative review that would be undertaken three years after the coming into force of the act would be a positive improvement to the legislation. This amendment would establish a clear timeline of 18 months, following the beginning of the review, for the minister to table in Parliament a report on the findings of the review.

In line with the objective of a separate amendment in the other place, it is proposed that the act clearly indicate that this legislative review carefully consider the impacts of this legislation on public health, including on youth, the impacts on indigenous peoples, and the impacts of home cultivation.

However, on the other hand, a number of amendments adopted in the other place cannot be supported, as they could create significant issues. This is the case, for example, of an amendment that would require that the minister collect and publicly disclose the names of every holder of a licence or permit, including persons who have control of or shares in corporations holding a licence. This amendment would raise concerns from a privacy perspective and would impose requirements on businesses operating in the legal cannabis industry that would be inconsistent with how businesses operating in other Canadian industries are treated.

It would also pose some issues from an operational perspective. For example, the volatility of shareholding in a publicly traded corporation could make the proposed reporting requirements practically impossible to meet and could cause extreme delays in licensing.

Health Canada has a robust physical and personnel security screening process in place for the existing cannabis for medical purposes industry. It is designed to guard against infiltration by organized crime. All officers and directors of a company must undergo thorough law enforcement record checks prior to licensing.

As part of the new regulatory framework, Health Canada has proposed to expand the list of individuals who would require a security clearance to include the directors and officers of any controlling company, in addition to those of the licensed company.

As we finalize our study of Bill C-45, I urge all parliamentarians to remember that this legislative framework is one of the pillars of a comprehensive public health approach the government is proposing to better protect Canadians and minimize the harms associated with cannabis use.

The government is taking action in a number of key areas, informed by the strict regulatory controls that are currently in place for Canadians who access cannabis for medical purposes and by lessons learned from our considerable success in taking a public health approach to reducing tobacco smoking rates. Our strategies include efforts to educate Canadians about the harms and risks of cannabis use, to promote healthy choices and reduce youth access, and to prevent problematic and high risk patterns of use, and many more.

It is important that we consider the proposed legislation in the context of these broader proven strategies for protecting public health. The government has taken every reasonable action to ensure that this bill is designed to take those things into account. I am proud of Bill C-45 and proud to—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to advise you from the outset that I will be splitting my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

I rise to take the opportunity to speak today against Bill C-45, a rushed and ill-conceived piece of legislation, which many of my colleagues have already pointed out has many flaws. Please allow me to amplify their concerns and add mine.

First and foremost, what is the rush? What is the rush with one-step, full-scale legalization, without interim steps? What is so important about the arbitrary deadline of July 1, 2018?

Really, if we are looking to do something substantive in a rush, maybe the Liberals could listen to my NDP colleagues who have been calling, for a long time, to make sure that the records of people who have been found guilty and have a criminal record for simple possession would be eliminated, so they could get a good job. If the Liberals want to rush something, why do they not rush at that?

Why ignore police and medical professionals' advice and push ahead with Bill C-45? Why not allow police, provincial and municipal governments, as well as health officials to better prepare for the onslaught of issues this legalization will unleash?

Believe me, there will be an onslaught of issues. All members need to do is look at other jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana to find that there will be a slew of issues that the government will need to deal with.

To date, why has there been no public education of the risks of smoking marijuana? What we have heard most often about many of the risks of marijuana is that they are so much more detrimental to our youth. No one should assume that some of us who are speaking against this, because we are parents and public figures, are trying to be condescending. None of us are trying to be patronizing. No one should assume that any of my colleagues or myself are trying to stereotype anyone either. We do not have some outdated notion of society.

What we are saying is that there is a massive number of risks that we are concerned about, and the government has not taken them into consideration. Data shows 30% to 40% of young people who use cannabis under the age of 25 will develop psychotic disorders, depression, and anxiety disorders. Let me repeat that, upward of one-third of people under 25 who use marijuana will develop psychotic disorders, depression, or anxiety disorders. That is far too many.

Where are the human rights champions over there who know already of the growing mental health epidemic with our youth, and who are not speaking up about the way drugs exacerbate those mental health issues? Where are they?

As a father of a daughter who suffered mental health issues to the point of taking her own life this past summer, I have seen first-hand the risks of drugs at an early age. My family and I have seen this path and what it leads to, the hurt and the pain, the suffering. We have felt the consequences most directly as many, too many, other families have.

Our heart aches thinking about what could have been, what should have been, had Lara not been exposed to drugs, on top of all the other demons she had to fight on a daily basis. It is tragic, and it is all to common.

That is why I am particularly concerned about the provisions in Bill C-45 when it comes to possession by children ages 12 to 17. As currently written, the bill allows children aged 12 to 17 to be in possession of five grams of pot. This is approximately five to 10 joints. What is positive about that, in any way, shape, or form? How is that good government? How is that having a concern about the safety and security of Canadians?

I am profoundly concerned. At 12, children cannot buy cigarettes, they cannot drink, they cannot drive, they cannot vote, they cannot enlist to fight for our country, but they can possess five to 10 joints. Really?

Medical professionals have told us that the number should be zero. In fact, they oppose Bill C-45 based on the harm it would do to our youth, and they are concerned about the young age at which it allows youth to possess pot, thereby condoning and encouraging it.

I do not accept the argument that, just because we pass legislation, we do not endorse something. Come on, that is always the case. Whenever we legislate, we are saying that we are doing it for the public good and are endorsing the behaviour.

How can I stand by as a parent who has lost a child to the struggle she had with many anxieties and depression, or as a member of Parliament whose primary concern is the safety of Canadians, and allow legislation that would exacerbate those depressions and anxiety in Canadian children as young as 12? How could I not speak out? It would be unconscionable.

I am not blind to the obvious. I know, and all members of the House know, that whether by peer pressure or otherwise, there are many teenagers who use marijuana; too many, and I wish it were far fewer. I wish they could see the damage they are doing to themselves. I wish they could have had a conversation with Lara in her later years. She would have counselled them otherwise. She would have warned them of the harm of smoking marijuana and the consequences on their cognitive abilities, how it amplifies any mental health issues, and how it is a slippery slope from one joint to a few joints to harder drugs, and on and on.

There are other reasons why Bill C-45 is flawed, not the least of which is that legalizing marijuana would not remedy the underground economy. We need only to look to tobacco. By some estimates, 40% of tobacco sold in Ontario is contraband. In fact, a study that came out last month by the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco found that one in three cigarettes sold in Ontario is contraband. Do members opposite honestly believe that it will be any different with pot, that it would be above board, and every single joint is taxed?

There was a similar experience with gambling, so we are not talking about something that does not have a track record in the past. After gambling was legalized, the stranglehold of organized crime continued in that business. It did not stop the gambling. In fact, by all measures, it increased it. In legalizing it, we inadvertently made matters worse for our young people. Studies indicate that up to 60% of children and adolescents engage in some form of gambling each week. This is because they are a generation that was exposed to legal gambling from a young age and it was not frowned upon, which is why the predominant concern about problem gambling is not primarily for adults but young people.

I heard some heckles about that, but we are not talking about somebody who is buying a lottery ticket. Are those members out to lunch? I am talking about someone who begins in gambling and then is trapped in gambling, and then that is a lifestyle. They can never ever enjoy their job or buy a house or anything, because they fritter away all their money on gambling. If that is what some members feel is okay for youth, then fine with that.

We must question the signals that we are sending to our teenagers. What precedent are we setting? Are we fully ready for all the social impacts that this will have on the years ahead?

My colleagues have raised a number of other points about Bill C-45, such as drug-impaired driving, the super-sized amount of pot one could grow at home, the lack of a public education program, and scientific evidence. However, the point I want to stress today and the question I want all members of the chamber to think through clearly is the exposure of marijuana to young children and adolescents. It is not too late to change it. It is not too late to stop it. It is not too late vote no on Bill C-45.

In closing, I will ask again, as I did at the outset. Why ignore police and medical professionals in regard to Bill C-45? Do we really think that 12 to 18 year-olds having five or 10 joints in their bedroom is a wise thing to advocate? Why do we not have more public education right now? Why not allow police, provincial and municipal governments, and health officials to better prepare for the massive upfront cost? I say again, what is the rush? Officials are not ready. I implore members to listen to the experts, doctors, scientists, and law enforcement. I ask all members to vote against Bill C-45.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for what was clearly a very sincere speech. I think we all agree that we do not want marijuana in the hands of teenagers. However, right now it is not working. Right now, we know that it is easier for teenagers to get marijuana than it is for them to get alcohol or cigarettes. By doing this, we would actually make it harder to get and we would be keeping it out of the hands of young people, which is the reason for the bill. Also, we do not want our teenagers to be exposed to the criminal elements that would get them into harder drugs, with the profits going into some of these criminal organizations.

What we have right now is not working. What would my colleague propose to make sure that we really do keep drugs out of the hands of young people?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, with all due respect and dignity toward my colleague, full legalization is not the way to keep drugs out of the hands of our youth nor do I think it is easier to find marijuana than it is alcohol or cigarettes. I already told the House that one-third of cigarettes that are sold in Ontario are contraband.

The very notion that Hells Angels and Satan's Choice are going to find something else because the government has their market is absolutely absurd. They are not going to leave this business. In fact, they will have a larger appetite now that the government has endorsed marijuana knowing that people who have never tried will now try it and they will be there with their supply ready to meet their needs.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:10 a.m.
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NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. It was nice to hear him talk about the importance of decriminalization. That is one thing we agree on. However the Liberals continue to stubbornly oppose it, despite the fact that the task force on marijuana recommended decriminalization since the government intends to legalize cannabis nine months from now anyway.

The fact that young people are still being handed criminal records for the possession of marijuana is having a serious impact on their lives. It prevents them from buying homes and finding jobs, and it also makes it very difficult for them to travel. That record stays with them for the rest of their lives.

Why is the government refusing to decriminalize marijuana and thus give young people the opportunity to do these things? What is more, in the wake of the Jordan decision, we need to free up the court system.

For all these reasons, does my colleague not think that the government is on the wrong track in its refusal to decriminalize cannabis?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to be in full agreement with my colleague. That is exactly what I was saying. Why not expedite the removal of a criminal record for those young people who were guilty of simple possession so that they no longer have to say they have a criminal record when filling out a job application? That would be a positive step. That would be peace, order, and good government, and that is what we are all about. Decriminalization should be used as a first step and the government should take some time then to monitor how that affects young people.

The government should also start an education program to tell young people that just because it removes a criminal record does not mean it is the right thing to do. We already know the risks for young people who already have mental health concerns. We know that marijuana exacerbates it, so why put it in their hands without any kind of education program whatsoever? Why give it to 12-year-olds, for goodness' sake? This is absolutely absurd.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, the Colorado Gazette has just published an article. It has been five years since the state legalized the drug and it is hearing about odour complaints in residential neighbourhoods and an increased homeless rate. The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has doubled, and in high school the drug violations have increased 71%.

With all of these results from Colorado five years out, why does the member think that the government is rushing ahead to legalize against the advice of provinces, police, and indigenous people?