Cannabis Act

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

Sponsor

Status

Considering amendments (House), as of June 13, 2018

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

November 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, the Conservatives and the Hells Angels will have the same drug policy when it comes to cannabis. Let us think about it. They want to decriminalize it, but not legalize it. That means we cannot regulate it. If we do not regulate it, I am sure the Hells Angels would love that.

Does the Conservative Party recognize that decriminalizing marijuana will ultimately be to the benefit of criminals in Canada?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, no, and I will explain why. This is a very serious issue. We as a party decided to decriminalize it because we did not want to hurt people their whole life for a bad mistake made when they were young. This was supported by 4,000 members from coast to coast in Vancouver a year and a half ago, We also want to give judges the chance to judge other serious issues, instead of putting hundreds and hundreds of people inside the courtroom, when there are other criminal issues to address.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Montarville.

Listening to my colleagues across the way reminds me of the importance of starting off by reminding all of us in this place of the importance of this debate to Canadians. I think the question every Canadian has on his or her mind, when we talk to people as members of Parliament, is, “Why would the Government of Canada legalize cannabis?”

Let us start by answering that question, because the Conservatives are having a difficult time relating to the reason why society, its values, and its norms change. Most of us know that 21% of youth and 30% of young adults reported using cannabis this year. Let us put it another way. I have been reading a study over the last few days. It has said that even if we go as low as 12.5% of Canadians aged 15 or older, 3.4 million Canadians have reported smoking cannabis on a regular basis or have been using it in one form or another.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to start again by informing the House that this is an extremely important debate as it relates to Canadian values and the direction that governments move to reflect those values.

I will give early statistics of why the present system has failed us miserably. The use of cannabis in Canada has been illegal for decades, even though many Canadians are not respecting or following that law. I want to also remind the House and Canadians that Statistics Canada has indicated that over 699,000 Canadians have a criminal record as a result of convictions on charges of cannabis possession. When we look at the statistics, the convictions, and the continued use, it shows very clearly that Canada has failed in its relationship with its constituents when it comes to the use of cannabis.

Why are we legalizing cannabis? Very clearly the approach we have been using has not worked for Canadians, is not going to work for Canadians, and it is a drug that is easily accessible to young people across this nation.

I have had the great privilege of living in northern Ontario, in British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley, and in Calgary, Alberta. Over the last 10 years, my children were in elementary, high school, and are now in university. Because of that, I have had the opportunity to speak to them and some of their friends about what is going on as it relates to this subject matter. It is clear and true when people say that it is easier to get cannabis on the streets than it is to buy a bottle of beer. It is true in B.C., in northern Ontario, and in Calgary where I live. People can walk down the streets in Ottawa and they would find the same situation.

We can do as the Conservatives are doing in the House and pretend nothing is wrong, or we can work very hard to change our approach. The work of the House is to put in place a very robust regulatory structure that controls the use of cannabis.

The public expectations are that we will put in legislation that protects our children and youth. This does not seem like an area which we have spent a lot of time positioning ourselves as a society. If what I hear from youth is true, that they can go into the playground of high schools and someone will sell them cannabis, then we have not done a very good job at protecting the interests of young people.

By restricting access, banning products, and packaging that may be appealing to children, we can keep cannabis out of the hands of our youth. Of course, it will be a difficult job, as it is with alcohol and tobacco, but society has a responsibility to do everything in its power to ensure we do this.

What are the government's expectations? A number of members have been focusing their attention on that today. It is not just one government at play here. There are a number of governments and their expectations obviously are different. The expectation of the federal government is to put in good legislation to meet the needs of our young people and to establish a regulatory structure to allow us to commit resources that will make a difference.

Then there is the expectation that the provincial government will put in place the kind of regulatory structure to make it safe and explainable to Canadians, and in this case to Ontarians in the province where I live. This would include how to purchase, what the packaging would look like, what the cost would be, and where to go to purchase legal cannabis.

Then there is the need for the legislation to reflect the role of those governments, and I include first nation governments. I have the honour and distinction of representing most first nations in Ontario. Those 42 first nations have an interest in having regulations and structures which might be somewhat different than what might be the case in non-native communities and municipalities around the country.

We expect tough laws on the sale, purchase, and criminal activities around cannabis. That will further protect youth. Penalties for promoting cannabis use and products to youth will be very strict, and that is the right way to approach this whole process.

I was asked by a reporter in my riding the other day why the penalties were so severe, penalties of up to 14 years in jail for selling to youth or for using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence. The answer is simple. We want to signal to Canadians that we are serious about controlling and managing the sale of cannabis.

It is not a simple matter of suggesting that society has evolved to the point where we expect our youth to be using cannabis. Our role and our expectations as government is to do a much better job than we have done in the past, because the numbers show the failure of society to protect our youth with respect to the use of cannabis.

I commend the government for its tough approach on dealing with the sale of cannabis. I also commend the government for taking on a project that we all know has a lot of people for and against it.

If we look at the number of states, countries, and other jurisdictions that are now moving in the direction Canada is taking today, it shows they all agree that the cannabis issue is not going to go away and we are not reflecting the needs of our society.

I have a study of some 18 states that have decriminalized the use of marijuana. Dozens of states have legalized medical marijuana. Now many states have fully legalized marijuana. This suggests that the path we are taking is the path many others are taking. I commend the government for doing that work in the House today.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I know my friend and colleague from Kenora as a very reasonable and fair person.

Earlier I brought up my concern about the government moving toward putting time allocation on the bill. The same day it announced that was the day the provinces asked for more time. We need to have a greater discussion on the issues they have outlined.

We are seeing a record number of vacancies in the courts and charges for violent crimes are being stayed. Why does the government continue to use judicial resources to go after people for simple possession of a substance that it has tabled legislation to legalize? Where is the fairness?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, those of us who spend a lot of time in Parliament know that the question the member has asked refers to how people feel about the structure for making laws in this place. We cannot assume a law is a law until it is passed. If we were to do that, the justice system and our colleagues in the police forces could prejudge the decisions of Parliament before they were made.

My only advice for my colleague is to be patient. We will see how this evolves as we go forward and see what approach the government believes is best to deal with people who already have a criminal record, to deal with people who are frustrated with police officers because they believe them to be a little too active on cannabis.

Our government should take the time to ensure we get this right. I expect that is exactly what we will do. It may not sound or seem like we are doing that in the House today, but all of the work that has been done over the last couple of years will come to fruition if we are patient enough to ensure we get this right for Canadians and for our young people.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Madam Speaker, we know that there is an issue with youth smoking marijuana in our country. We hear again and again from the government that the solution to this is to allow children from 12 to 17 to legally have up to seven joints. We hear that the solution to youth using marijuana is to allow families to grow seven pot plants of unlimited height in every single household and apartment in the country. I am curious. How in the world is making it more available to youth going to reduce youth marijuana use?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, I have to say to the member, it is not very useful to put facts on the floor of the House of Commons that are not true, because we are not putting marijuana in the hands of 12-year-olds or 17-year-olds.

The fact remains, we have to start with the real issue at hand. I strongly urge the member to come with me to any high school. I will show him who is selling drugs to the kids. Even the police know that this is what is going on, simply because it is so widespread it is almost impossible to control the way the member is suggesting.

I would say to the member and his party to get with the program with young people, and we will make a difference in what we are trying to accomplish on their behalf.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, earlier this week, I voted to remove from Bill C-45 the provision in clause 9 that would penalize someone who, for example, passes a joint, at a party, to someone who turns out to be under the age of 19. Right now, in the legislation, it is a 14-year penalty for what is called non-commercial cannabis trafficking.

Does the member share my concern that people in the public may not be aware that this is a severe penalty for something that could well be an accident and that, given that the government has closed down debate, this cannot be fully aired?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not believe anyone in the House agrees with the member that it is the intention of that clause or the legislation to put an individual at a house party in jail for 14 years for unfortunately passing a joint off to someone who is younger than anticipated. That is not the way any legislation works.

I ask the member to reconsider making those kinds of comments in public, when in fact, that is not the way the law will read.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, the expressions “hit a wall“ and “hit bottom” best describe the current situation with cannabis and its status as an illegal substance. Nothing, including the status quo, will improve the situation.

Firstly, we are not condoning the use of this product. Personally, I am against using cannabis. However, I have the privilege of leading consultations in Quebec on legalizing a product that does not concern me in the least, since I do not use it, but that causes problems for me. This may be an extremely difficult decision, but it is necessary. We have to show the public that we take this issue seriously and ensure through our colleagues' efforts that the way in which marijuana is legalized is reassuring to the public, better contains the problem, and better manages the future with regard to cannabis use.

The consultations generally focused on these same problems, and people's concerns were heard loud and clear. In addition to listening to them, we asked people to continue to bring forward their concerns on the issue, because together we can monitor and follow the trend for consumption of the product in order to achieve the intended result. What was illegal for those under 18 before legalization will continue to be illegal afterwards. What was harmful to health will not suddenly become a healthy habit after the product is legalized. Fortunately, the file is in the hands of the Minister of Health, who will ensure that this product is controlled to avoid problems we currently experience when people use products purchased on the black market. They have no idea of what they are consuming.

In view of the current problems with public health and organized crime stemming from the sale of cannabis, a government's failure to act would be tantamount to an offence, a reflection of its lack of responsibility. Maintaining the status quo will only ensure the worst results, the worst consequences, and a loss of control, which we must mitigate as much as possible.

Let us be realistic. In my previous life, I had the opportunity to work on cases involving organized crime. We are not deluding ourselves. We know that organized crime also deals in legal substances, substances that can legally be sold, and that it will not completely disappear when this bill is passed. Getting around the law is what organized crime does, and it is the job of our police forces, intelligence agencies, and government bodies to ensure that the activities of these criminal organizations are thwarted as much as possible.

Fortunately, the legalization of such a substance will ensure that law enforcement can focus its efforts on what matters most, for example, the unacceptable presence of organized crime in schoolyards. All a person has to do is ask a child under the age of 18 for some cannabis to understand that this is real problem. During the consultations, young people told us that it would only take them about 15 minutes to get some. That is scary. This drug is so accessible that we need to focus our efforts where they will count the most.

Naturally, legalizing cannabis does not just mean making the product accessible and legal. Although it is true that this will improve the situation, relieving some of the pressure on the justice system remains a secondary objective. It is very clear that the primary objective has to do with health. People are putting their lives at risk by taking a product whose ingredients they know nothing about. This is a situation that needs to be fixed.

The approach to organized crime is also clear. Organized crime is making significant profits that fuel money laundering and are also used to fund other types of criminal activity.

We need tools to curb this type of activity as much as possible and clean up the culture associated with this product. It is true that we have heard that taking illegal drugs is cool and gives the user a certain status and cachet among peers. We must discourage this kind of misinformed thought process. Changing the culture will require clear and unequivocal government involvement in education, training, and prevention.

It is too bad that some members of the party opposite say that we are doing nothing about prevention until after marijuana is legalized. The consultations that I attended and had the pleasure of leading tell a different story. Community intervention groups have already been clearly identified and are doing tremendous work.

Unfortunately, Canada has the highest percentage of cannabis users in the world, simply because the product is illegal. Furthermore, it is estimated that 30% of Canadians aged 18 to 25 use cannabis. In some regions, including the northern suburbs of Montreal, Quebec's health department puts that figure at over 40%. We are the champions of using an illegal product. There are many competitions that I want to win, but this is not one of them.

The supposed deterrent messages about prison sentences have failed, and maintaining the status quo would be inconceivable. The government is therefore seeking both to legalize the product and to allocate the necessary funds and resources for training and prevention.

Prevention is already happening, and we will step up our efforts because that is what we, as a reasonable government making an admittedly extremely difficult decision, committed to doing. This is a monumental challenge related to an extremely sensitive issue, but this decision had to be made. There will never be a perfect time when we can say that all of the elements are in place and we can go ahead with legalization. In fact, we are way behind.

The government's decision will have serious consequences, but it will truly be good for our communities. The government will oversee the process and will be able to anticipate outcomes. Unlike the members opposite, I will make no predictions based on speculation or clairvoyance, but I will say that based on our objectives, we can expect results similar to the experiences and best practices of other countries that have gone down this path and succeeded in reducing marijuana consumption.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Joël Godin Conservative Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his presentation.

How can he say that the use of marijuana is a problem that affects our young people because they can access it in 15 minutes, and then turn around and say that the distribution points will increase, so young people will be able to get it at the local pharmacy? There is an inconsistency here.

Why does this government not pass laws and make investments that will eliminate organized crime and encourage young people to play sports, participate in arts and culture activities, or at the very least get involved in the many organizations in our ridings?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising this important question. Unfortunately, his reasoning is faulty. The fact that legal distribution centres will be open does not necessarily mean that people will consume more marijuana. They already consume more than anywhere else in the world.

The bill clearly makes it illegal to sell cannabis to young people, to use young people to purchase cannabis, and to sell cannabis through young people. What was illegal will remain illegal. It is false to state that young people have greater access to a product once it becomes legal. They cannot purchase alcohol or cigarettes, even though there is no shortage of distribution points. Reality shows that we are on the right track.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I raised this earlier to both the health minister and the member for Kenora, that the government brought in time allocation on the same day that the provinces raised concerns about them not being prepared to take this on.

This member's own province has raised concerns about the timeline that is being imposed on them. The member for Kenora is saying, “Trust us. Trust us. We are going to get it right.” Trust is not built by ending debate, by taking away the opportunity to have a conversation and get it right. That is not how trust is built.

Could the member speak to us about why the government is putting through time allocation and limiting debate on an issue when his own province has raised concerns that they are being rushed to prepare to take this on?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, I think that the time allocation motion is being misconstrued.

Everyone was well aware of our intentions even before we took office. As soon as we were elected, we put all of our cards on the table and everyone knew that we were going to legalize marijuana.

We held consultations, and since we are talking about my province, I will mention that I even had the pleasure of discussing the timeframe with the provincial minister, who confirmed that the Quebec health department was in touch with Health Canada on a weekly basis.

I know that other provinces are already ready and that licences have already been issued. When we took office, people made the necessary preparations, as we have; we will be ready.