Cannabis Act

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

Sponsor

Status

Report stage (House), as of Nov. 9, 2017

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

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

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, what does my colleague think is the biggest problem related to cannabis at the moment? Is it the pressure on the legal system because of people charged with simple possession and all the repercussions that go along with that, for instance, the delays because of the number of cases before the courts, or is my colleague more concerned about the taxes not being collected? Which of those two problems regarding cannabis is the member more concerned about?

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, while the government often talks about reducing the backlog in our courts, what this legislation may actually do is increase the backlog. For example, this legislation provides that Canadians could possess up to 30 grams of marijuana. However, it contains provisions that if they possessed 31 grams of marijuana, they would be criminals, with serious penalties. We have sentences in Bill C-45 of up to 14 years. Arguably, those are not consistent with other similar offences. On that front, I think the government has really not thought this through, and what Bill C-45 would result in is a further backlog in our courts. The bottom line is that no matter how one looks at this, Bill C-45 is a complete and absolute failure.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Madam Speaker, the problem I have with the speech the member opposite gave is that it fails to reflect the reality of what already exists today, which is that Canada has the highest rate of cannabis use by young people in the world. The use of tobacco, including illicit tobacco that is not sold legally, which a member spoke about earlier, is half that rate among young people. With the total and abject failure of policies to this point, would the member not agree that the status quo is not working for young people and that we need a different approach?

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, I would say that I reject the approach taken by the government, which is to legalize, normalize, and promote the use of marijuana. We can look at the state of Colorado, for example, which went down this road. Prior to legalization, marijuana use among youth in the state of Colorado ranked 14th in the U.S. After legalization, Colorado is now number one. One only need look south of the border and apply some basic common sense to know that legalizing and normalizing marijuana is not the way to reduce marijuana usage among young people.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, it is with great disgust and sadness that I rise today to speak again to this bad bill that will have a major impact on the lives of our children, adolescents, and parents. If by some misfortune this bill is passed and the government's goal of legalizing marijuana on July 1, 2018, is achieved, this will have an adverse and terrifying effect on Canadian families.

Legalizing marijuana normalizes it and that is not the message we want to send to our young people. From now on, under the Liberal government, it will be legal to smoke pot, a gateway drug for all other drugs. No one knows anyone who just one day decides to start using cocaine or other hard drugs. It always starts with a little joint and ends with hard drugs. This Liberal government is practically giving unholy permission to use drugs for the first time. After that, the procession of family tragedies that this will generate, the procession of lives destroyed, and the procession of incredibly destructive problems that Canadians will face, like the people of Colorado and Washington have for far too many years, will be on the Liberal government.

In Canada, the Liberal government's initiative did not meet with the approval of the police, municipalities, or the provinces. Let us first talk about the police. They are telling us in all honesty that in the unfortunate event that this bill goes ahead, there will be a host of problems on our roads, in society, and with the preventative measures that we will need. It is impossible to assemble and appropriately equip every police force from coast to coast to coast in order for them to respond directly to the new challenges that this bad Liberal legislation will give rise to. The head of the RCMP recently said that it would be naive to believe that the new Liberal legislation will help eliminate organized crime. The head of the RCMP said that.

Those people who know the business, those people who have to deal day after day with the reality of the consumption of marijuana and other drugs, will tell them clearly that if they think criminal people will put that aside and kill their criminal activities, they are being naive. This is totally unacceptable. Those who know the business say do not go there.

It is the same for the provinces. Whether we are talking about British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Quebec, or any other province, not one minister of health, not one minister of justice, not one minister of housing, not one provincial premier cheered for the Liberal government's new approach. On the contrary, our provinces are grappling with the implications for their jurisdictions. The provinces will also be saddled with millions of dollars of spending on health, social services, security, training, and equipment. All of this thanks to the Liberals in Ottawa. The provinces could really have done without this.

This is being rushed through. Municipalities are being affected too. They have to adjust their bylaws to accommodate the Liberal government's ridiculous plan to allow every Canadian household to grow four pot plants up to three feet high. Will that be great for Canada or what? As everyone here knows, a house where pot is being grown is not two times or four times or 10 times more likely to catch fire, but 24 times more likely to catch fire. That is a fact. People are going to have to deal with that situation. How are multi-unit building owners supposed to deal with that? How can they check on things? How can they be sure everything is safe? They cannot retroactively prohibit people from doing it because there is already a lease in place.

How is this going to work in each of the provinces? Every province has its own jurisdiction. Every province will do things its own way. Every municipality will have to pass bylaws, and that opens up a whole can of worms. What is the government doing about that? The federal government says this is all up to the provinces and it will not interfere. The Liberal government is the one causing these problems.

The current Liberal government, which is proposing to normalize marijuana by legalizing it, is creating a whole host of problems and washing its hands of them because they do not fall under its jurisdiction, but that of the police, municipalities, and provinces.

Even worse, the government, because of an obsession unbecoming of any elected representative of any stripe, is pushing for the bill's passage and implementation by July 1.

I will never understand how the government decided, without laughing at people, that the launch date for legalization would be Canada Day. There are 365 days in a year, and it chose Canada Day to launch its bad policy. It is totally unacceptable, and un-Canadian to do that.

I will be proud to sing O Canada, but be assured, I will never sing O cannabis on July 1. We are laughing, but it is not a joke because here, in the House of Commons, we have seen so many great Canada Days. On the other hand, we have also seen so many stupid and obvious demonstrations by those who smoke marijuana in front of Parliament. We will see people there, smoking marijuana. That is a real shame. It will not be a great Canada Day in 2018, thanks to the Liberals.

Let us remember the example: unfortunately, two U.S. states, Colorado and Washington, decided to legalize marijuana. What has happened after some years of legalization?

In Colorado, three times as many people have been hospitalized for marijuana related problems since it was legalized. The Liberals tell us that the problem will be solved. On the contrary, it will make it worse. There has been a 108% and 68% increase in overdoses in Colorado and the State of Washington respectively. Will that solve the problems? On the contrary, it will generate twice as many problems and give rise to new ones.

The number of traffic accidents has doubled in the State of Washington and tripled in Colorado. The Liberals are saying, with a straight face, that, on the contrary, it will resolve problems, because we are currently unable to manage them. They are going to legalize marijuana and solve the problems.

It is quite the opposite. There will be twice as many problems in certain situations and we will make things worse. Is it not a fact that, after California, Colorado has the largest illegal production of marijuana?

Those people say, with that, we will kill, we will attack, we will be aggressive with the criminals. That is not true. The criminals are laughing today. They are saying: “Oh, that's great, the dirty job of introducing people to marijuana for the first time will be done under the Liberals. That's fantastic. The government will do the dirty job, and after that we'll enjoy it because those kids will then be able to use other harder drugs”. That is a Liberal reality. That is why we will never accept this kind of bill.

We need to remember that normalizing the legalization of marijuana has an unfortunate effect on children. I will quote Ms. Seychelle Harding, director of communications for the Portage group's addiction rehabilitation centres, who said, “It is clear that just saying it, writing it, talking about it sends a message to young people that it is okay.” That is the reality of the Liberal government. It sends a message saying it is okay when, in fact, nothing good will come of this.

Also, beginning July 1, if the bill unfortunately passes, 12-year-old children will be allowed to have five grams of pot in their pockets. I was very surprised to hear that five grams can be 10 to 15 joints. That is the reality.

Come June, young boys and girls, 12-year-old sixth graders, will walk around the school yard with 15 joints in their pockets thinking it is okay. They will come home and say everything is okay because the Prime Minister of Canada told them they could. Is this the type of country we want to build for our children? Not at all.

The same goes for the four pot plants which the Liberal government will authorize in every household. This represents 600 grams of pot per house, and yet, we are told this is meant to protect children. The opposite is true. Children will have direct access to 600 grams of pot. For these reasons and many others, we must reject this bill.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I have a couple of points I want to raise.

First of all, I assure the member opposite that the date of enactment will not be July 1, Canada Day, a day that is special to all Canadians. I can say with great assurance that it will not be that day. In my opinion, that day is a sacred day for the celebration of the birth of this country, and we will not be doing the enactment of this proposed legislation on that day. We will not be doing it on July 1.

I also want to remind the member and a number of people on the other side who are saying that we cannot fight organized crime, that I respectfully disagree. I would also remind them that in this proposed legislation, the offences of illegal production of cannabis, illegal trafficking of cannabis, and illegal importation and exportation of cannabis would remain serious criminal offences with substantial criminal penalties for those who would break the law. The only cannabis that would be available for purchase and consumption by adult Canadians would be cannabis produced under strict regulation.

I offer that to the member simply to remind him, in response to his concerns about dealing with organized crime, that law enforcement will still have all the tools and authorities it requires to fight the scourge of organized crime in our communities.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, what he said is brand new to me, and I think brand new to Canada. The parliamentary secretary just announced that it will be not July 1. Is that true? Is it written in the bill? Is it not written in the bill that everyone should be ready for July 1, and that every province and municipality should be ready for July 1? If they have changed their minds, that is a first step toward reality, but there are also some other steps for them to take.

The parliamentary secretary talked about people on the criminal side, because the bill would be very strict, and so if they import drugs, they will be very careful. They are doing that now, and will continue to do so. However, the problem is that with the Liberals' bill, the kids will have access to that.

We are going to downplay the use of marijuana, and that is the problem caused by the Liberal bill. From now on, teenagers will tell their parents it is legal and it is their right. They will use it and go to the neighbour's house because he has pot.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Linda Lapointe Liberal Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague for describing the situation with enthusiasm and passion. He says that this is not good for young people, but in fact young people 18 and under have access to marijuana.

In my riding, we held a consultation in September. Dr. Goyer, director of public health in the Laurentian area said that 32% of people 18 and under in Quebec had used cannabis over the past year. In the Laurentian area, it is 50%. That is not good. That is why we have to put this in the hands of the law and engage in education and prevention.

I imagine that the hon. member, whom I have known for many years, has children. Mine are 25, 23, 21, and 18. They all told me that it is easier to buy marijuana than it is to buy alcohol and cigarettes because those are legal and cannot be purchased without showing identification. I come from the retail sector, which is subject to very strict laws with very harsh penalties for those who sell products to people 18 and under.

We need to legalize cannabis and put very strict measures in place. I would like to know what my colleague has to say about that.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I just want to point out that this is the second time a Liberal member has asked me a question, even though people on this side had risen.

The worst thing we could do would be to let children as young as 12 carry 15 joints. The member and the Liberals may well say that educating young people is important, but where is the educational value in letting 12-year-olds, grade 6 students, walk around the schoolyard with 15 joints in their pockets?

I am sorry, but a sign of normalization like this would be the worst thing this government could do.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-45, the cannabis act. I have been here since 2004 and it is probably one of the most badly written pieces of legislation I have ever seen, and there is some frustration on this side in that regard because we have heard the Liberals are going to bring in time allocation. For a bill of such importance and such reach within our provinces and territories, the requirement to have different Houses of Parliament coordinated on this is totally irresponsible.

I want my colleagues, especially on the Liberal side, to understand that there are certain important points to bear in mind in my speech. First of all, everyone agrees that too many kids are smoking marijuana. In my community of Oshawa, no one wants to see a kid who has a couple of joints get a criminal record or get thrown into jail. Most Canadians would agree with that, and that is why it is really important that Canadians recognize that the Conservatives favour making the possession of small amounts of marijuana a ticketable offence only. This is exactly in line with the position of the chiefs of police. This is a responsible approach, one that Canadians would be very supportive of, but not of the bill that we see in front of us.

The Liberals claim that the status quo is not working, but how does the Liberal government define that? According to a Statistics Canada report dated April 2015, based on data collected from the Canadian community health survey on mental health, the total percentage of teens aged 15-17, which is the target group, reporting having used marijuana had dropped from 40% in 2002 to 25% in 2012. That is a 15 percentage point decrease. This means that something in the status quo is working, but why are the Liberals not telling Canadians about that? What are the Liberals saying? They are saying they want to legalize marijuana because it will it out of the hands of our kids and keep the profits out of the hands of organized crime. We agree with that. These are good ideas, but does C-45 accomplish that objective? Anyone who has read the bill would say no.

At the health committee we had scientists testify, and the science is clear. Any use of marijuana under the age of 25 can cause permanent psychological damage to our kids, and currently the bill allows kids aged 12 to 17, as young as grade 6, to possess up to five grams of marijuana, equivalent to 10 to 15 joints. That is ridiculous in light of the medical evidence of the harm it can cause our youth. There is no provision to prevent them from selling or distributing cannabis. The amount should be zero.

I am asked if a child in grade 6 could share it with younger kids. That is an important question. It is a great concern of parents and teachers. It would allow drug dealers to target kids and use them for profit.

Bill C-45 allows up to four plants to be grown in the home. Any home can become a grow op. Four plants under the right conditions can yield up to 600 grams or 1,200 to 1,800 joints. This is a concern for homeowners, landlords, law enforcement. Moreover, there is no mandatory testing for the potency or toxicity of the homegrown plants, and no money for inspection. There is no federal requirement to lock up the marijuana. This is going to expose kids and even pets to the drugs. Grow ops lead to a 24-fold increase in incidents involving fire. Landlords are concerned that they will not be able to forbid grow ops or smoking if they are already renting their properties.

Other jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana have said that home grows were hugely penetrated by organized crime. We know it from the science and the evidence out there. For this reason, Washington state does not allow home grows, except for medically fragile people who cannot get to a dispensary. It has been able to reduce organized crime to less than 20% of the market.

The legal opinion is that allowing four plants per dwelling will end up being challenged in court as well. The government has not thought through the bill. There will not only be danger in the homes of Canadians, but on the roads too. Drug-impaired driving is not addressed in Bill C-45. It is encompassed in Bill C-46, but a study recently issued by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction put the cost of impaired driving from cannabis at one billion dollars. The AAA found there has been a large increase in the number of fatal accidents in Washington state involving the use of marijuana after the state legalized the drug. In fact, impaired driving has increased in the American states that have legalized it, and there is no current instrument that can accurately measure one's level of impairment on the roadside. The science is not there yet.

Canada is unable to train our own officers in Canada and needs to send our officers to expensive, lengthy training in the United States, and this training currently has wait lists.

The legalization of marijuana will definitely impact our ability to trade internationally. Have the Liberals noticed that we are negotiating NAFTA? Do the Liberals think that having a drug policy way out of sync with our American neighbours will improve trade or thicken the border? For Oshawa and my community, this is a huge problem, as it is for other communities as well.

Let us look at the treaties. Passing Bill C-45 would violate three UN treaties to which Canada is a signatory. In order to legalize marijuana by July 1 and not be in violation of the UN treaties, Canada would have had to withdraw by July 1 of this year, and the Liberal government did not do that. How can Canada hold other countries to account on their treaty obligations when Canada does not even honour its own?

This leads me to this question. Why the rush? There are only 241 days to go until this arbitrary date that the Liberals selected. Provinces, municipalities, police forces, and our indigenous communities have stated they are not ready to implement this legislation. The government knows this; members have heard it in committee.

So many questions have been left unanswered. Will Canadians who use marijuana be able to cross the border into the United States where marijuana is still illegal? No department has been able to answer this question, and Canadians deserve an answer before the legislation is implemented.

How will enforcement officers test for drug impairment on the roadside? Can these tests be constitutionally challenged? Is the science valid? Canadians deserve an answer.

What education programs are in place now to inform youth about the dangers and consequences of marijuana? If they are not in place now, when will this education process begin? The health minister said today $43 million, but there is no timeline.

What will happen to the current medical marijuana system and how will recreational sales impact medical marijuana pricing and distribution?

Canadians deserve answers to these questions before the legislation is passed.

The Liberals talk about the black market. One of the stated goals is to eliminate the black market by creating a legal framework for marijuana, but this is a flawed way of thinking. A variety of factors are being left up to the provinces, such as pricing, distribution, which products are included, and packaging.

We need to listen to the real experts on the ground.

Assistant Commissioner Joanne Crampton, of federal policing criminal operations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said:

As Kathy mentioned, organized crime is a high priority for federal policing, in particular, for the RCMP. We target the highest echelon within the organized crime world. We're very cognizant...and realize that the chances of organized crime being eliminated in the cannabis market would be.... It's probably naive to think that could happen.

Naive, that is what the experts say about the Liberal approach.

Our Conservative position is the same as the Canadian chiefs of police position, to issue tickets for the simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. This approach is more sensible regarding marijuana possession. Instead of rushing to legalize marijuana, Conservatives are working with law enforcement to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Canadians would be spared a criminal record for simple possession of small amounts.

To summarize, the Liberals promised that they wanted to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids. They also promised that they wanted to keep profit out of the hands of organized crime.

My speech ultimately has proven that the Liberal approach is wrong. This bill would not accomplish what they are promising Canadians. This is like a big bill of sale. The bill would actually place children further in harm's way by permitting possession for kids as young as 12. That is grade 6. Home grow ops will expose children living in a dwelling to dangerous living space and increase the production of marijuana and diversion to organized crime. This approach will increase the rate of impaired driving.

The bill leaves so many questions unanswered, which has blindsided law enforcement and other levels of government.

The question is why the Liberals are force-feeding us this deeply flawed bill. The only answer I can come up with is that the government has no problem being deceitful to Canadians in order to keep the Prime Minister's irrresponsible election promise, muddying the water about the implications of full legalization under the bill.

Instead of blindly trying to keep campaign promises at the expense of Canadians' health and safety, perhaps the Liberals should refocus their attention on protecting kids and protecting the public, protecting our trade agreements, and not putting international relationships in jeopardy, particularly the one we have with the United States. They have had no problem breaking other promises, whether it is the balanced budget, electoral reform, or openness and transparency.

It is time the Liberals put the brakes on this legislation until the science supports the ability to ensure the health and safety of Canadians, particularly our kids.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, we know that many states in the United States have already legalized marijuana within their own jurisdictions. Again, I am going to come back to the point I made earlier, and maybe I will come back to it a little more precisely. Over the preceding 10 years before we came into power, where there was an election fought on this very issue, rates of cannabis use by young people continued to edge up higher every year. The reality for cannabis use is that it exceeds 20%. The idea that suddenly people are going to start driving while high, as if it is not already happening, is to ignore a very serious existing problem. That is why we are introducing legislation to deal with the problem of those who would drive while high.

However, I would ask the member specifically this question. We have the example of tobacco, where prevalence rates for tobacco are now half what they are for cannabis among the youngest cohort, but they used to be incredibly high. Rates used to be over 50%. Through a process of legalizing and making sure we had control, we were able to bring that number down below 10%. Does the member not think that the example of tobacco, how it was regulated and the denormalization campaigns used, is applicable here with cannabis?

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, there were so many fallacies in that statement. First of all, we cannot really compare tobacco to marijuana. This is the bill of sale: the Liberals keep repeating their talking points. It is not me; it is the Canadian community health survey on mental health that said the total percentage of teens aged 15 to 17, the target group, went from 40% to 25% from 2002 to 2012. Let us take a look at it; maybe it was working.

We are not saying we do not have to do something, but we have to responsible. This entire approach by the Liberals is an experiment. It is hypothetical. They want to take all our kids and put them into a system that no one else in the world has used before. What we are saying is let us take a breath and let us put the brakes on this legislation, instead of using closure so that we cannot even finish debating it properly. I am talking to my municipality, and the police officers in it are not going to be ready. There is going to be horrible case law that is going to develop from this because the proper rules, regulations, and testing are not going to be in place.

My colleague and I agree on a lot of things in this House. Truly, too many Canadian kids are smoking marijuana, but this bill is a rotten piece of legislation. We are not going to let Canadians be sold a bad bill of sale. It is a very deceitful way of putting this forward.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, we can look to other jurisdictions to see what has happened. Currently, in Canada, there are about 1,000 people a year who die because of an impaired driving incident. When Colorado legalized marijuana, deaths due to impaired driving went up by 40%. In Canada, that would translate to about 400 deaths per year.

Can the member comment on who will be to blame for these deaths after legalization?

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, the sad part is that we are all going to be blame. This is an issue about the health and safety of Canadians. If we look at the facts, we see there are no roadside tests, no tools that can actually test if somebody is impaired or not. We are going to be relying on drug recognition experts. Earlier, my colleague said that these experts are well trained. However, we have to send them to the States to be trained, and they are not going to be ready. We may need thousands of these police officers to be trained, and it is going to take resources away from other things on the road. The entire system is not set up for this yet. The science is not there. This is something that is totally irresponsible.

I have to give credit to my NDP colleagues as well. They realize that things have to be done, but not through this bill. This is a horrible bill. Canadians need to know they are being sold a bill here that is not going to do what the Liberal government is claiming, just based on that irresponsible promise the Prime Minister came up with during the last election campaign. This is not the solution.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, I am going to enjoy getting involved in this debate, having listened today to many of the remarks that have been provided by my colleagues. I have listened with particular intent to what the Liberal members have been saying and what their underlying argument is for this legislation. The case they have been making in the House is that the legislation would lower usage, make it possible to make it safer, and provide more protection for young people, for people who are abusing, misusing, and getting involved in the marijuana drug scene.

Having listened to that, I specifically tailored my remarks to deal with it, in particular looking at the jurisdictions throughout the world—Uruguay, Washington state, and particularly Colorado—that have legalized this. I find it interesting that they have made arguments about it becoming safer, that it would be safer with the legislation, that there would be less usage, and that we would be able to bring down the usage rates by young people. It is interesting that when I am out in the general public and people talk to who want to see the legislation go through, they never talk about increased safety. They argue for wanting to be able to use their joint recreationally without any hassle. The push from the general public, the people behind the scenes, is somewhat different from the argument that the government is making today.

I will deal with the argument that the government is making today. The argument that, “I want to have my fun and I do not care about the consequences” is not one that I am prepared to deal with today. There is a basic argument for dealing with that on its own. The argument I will deal with today is with the facts, and I will be using a couple of studies in particular.

The first study I would like to refer to was sponsored by France's National Institute of Higher Security and Justice Studies. The institute hired a psychiatry professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Erika Forbes, to look into marijuana usage around the world. The argument that the government is making is that, if we legalize marijuana, we will in fact have less usage. We have very few jurisdictions around the world that have gone for complete legalization, but there are three: Uruguay, Washington, and Colorado. It has been noted that in each and every one of those three jurisdictions, usage rates actually went up. In Washington and Colorado, the study says, usage rates did not move up uniformly in all age brackets and all demographics; they tended to move up more among adults than among young people. In Uruguay, the study found complete across-the-board increased usage of marijuana by every age cohort that was measured, the whole spectrum.

This is what we have. With what the Liberals are experimenting with in Canada, the experiment has been done in three jurisdictions and in each of these three times—from my perspective, not surprisingly—we have ended up with higher usage rates of marijuana. That is what I am anticipating as we go forward. If we legalize, as the other jurisdictions have, Canadians should not be surprised if we have higher usage rates.

On the question of whether I believe that will vary across the country, absolutely. The way the situation is now in Canada, if we read police reports and study anything about arrest rates and charge rates, we see that the usage rates in the Canadian public and the rates at which police charge and prosecutors prosecute vary dramatically across the country. Interestingly enough, according to one study I read, the place in the country with the lowest use among major cities was Saskatoon, where the police are also most likely to charge people; there is the most aggressive enforcement. Vancouver and Halifax were at the other end of the spectrum, both for youth who report usage and also for charge rates. There are different things that may be at play, but the government needs to think about this. Where the law is more strictly enforced in Canada, marijuana is less likely to be used. That would fit with the information that we get from the Uruguay-Washington-Colorado studies. Therefore, I would urge the government to look at this, because the very practical reality is that in some places in Canada it is almost legalized now. That is how slack the charge rate is.

Another thing that was noted in particular in the study paid for by the French institute of higher security was that marijuana poisonings have gone up in all of these jurisdictions. That is not something any Canadian politician wants to see happen. That is a problem across the board.

As I was getting ready for this, I found a report produced in October of this year on the situation in Colorado since it legalized marijuana. This is very fresh data. This report was produced literally a few weeks ago. For any members who are interested, I will try to have this posted on my website or on my Facebook page by Monday or Tuesday of next week.

The study pointed out that in 2006, Colorado was 14th among young people for usage of marijuana in the whole United States of America. In 2015, it was number one. It went from someplace above average to high, to being the place where marijuana was most used. In fact, Colorado currently has 55% higher than the national average marijuana, cannabis usage among young people. It found the same thing among adults. Colorado has about 124% higher usage rate of marijuana in general than the national average across the United States.

People who may be watching this might be thinking that they will use marijuana, that this will not cause them a problem, that this is not a stress for them. They may think their kids will not use it, or they hope they will not use it. However, let look at these statistics again.

Marijuana-related traffic deaths, when a driver was tested positive for marijuana, doubled from 55 deaths 2013 to 125 deaths in 2016. Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 66% in the four year average, 2013 to 2016, since Colorado legalized it. During the same period, all traffic deaths only increased 16%.

When we take out the marijuana-related traffic deaths, the roadway is as safe or getting safer. However, marijuana is making it more dangerous to drive in the state of Colorado.

Youth usage has gone up in Colorado, and it was a high-usage state already. We are not comparing someplace where there was almost no marijuana. Colorado was in the top quarter, or third, of U.S. usage among youth, and it continued to go up after the legalization.

College age usage increased 16%. College-age students usage, second in the United States usage, was in eighth position in 2005-06.

Emergency department and hospitalization marijuana admissions was up from 6,300 in 2011 to 6,700 in 2012, and to 11,400 in 2014, and was on track to blow past that number in 2015.

In literally every measure we look at it is getting worse. Colorado's health system is getting worse; its driving situation for safety is getting worse; usage by young people is getting worse; usage by adults, the entire population, is getting worse.

The government has also said that it something like what it did with tobacco. Passing this legislation is not that. In fact, we could do the same thing about making marijuana more socially unacceptable, pushing marijuana back in other ways, in the same way governments have on tobacco over the years. We can do that right now. We do not have to legalize to go in that direction. In fact, if the government dropped this bill and went in that direction, I think it would find widespread public support.

Marijuana exposure has gone up. There are still criminal issues and all sorts of problems going on in Colorado.

I want to point to two final things. The other week I was at a family funeral in Saskatchewan. My uncle had passed away. I was visiting with a relative, who is a member of the Edmonton city police force. I asked him how many Edmonton city police officers wanted to have legalized marijuana. He said , “Us guys on the streets, absolutely none.” That tells us what the people on the front lines are thinking.

Finally, if we are to deal with drug problems in Canada, we have to deal with them in a broad-based culture, not just in Parliament but across the country. We need to do this not just now, but in perpetuity.