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 / 1:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Madam Speaker, thank you for being so generous and giving me two minutes to speak to such an important bill today. I have heard a lot on it before, and my observation with respect to this is that the government has created a monster and a problem that, as a business case, takes with it all of the risks.

Funnily enough, the government is congratulating itself over the good results that this bill will generate while disregarding the opinions of the people, the parents, the municipalities, the police forces, all the stakeholders across the country, the public opinions from the consultations that had not been properly done, and not allowing the bill to go to committee to be studied properly. All of that has not been taken into consideration whatsoever by the government on such an important bill.

Therefore, the only sign that this is an important bill is that we see the government trying to thank itself for how good a job it has done. However, it should at least pay attention to the public and make sure that people understand it. It should make sure that people are asked questions and that it hears their concerns. There are a large number of problems and concerns out there that people are talking about, to which the government has unfortunately turned a deaf ear.

If we were to list the number of issues and concerns, instead of two minutes, we would need hours to express ourselves properly, to ensure that what Canadians will get out of this bill is not something as harmful, as unfair, and as much of a risk as it presently is for families and people. Therefore, if I have 20 seconds, I would like to list the following problems: impaired driving; easy and direct pot access for children and youth; health impacts on brain development to youth under 25 years of age; health impacts to heavy users, such as addiction; keeping drugs away from children and youth, especially home-grown plants and edibles; and, workplace health and safety.

These are major problems. I hope the government will come to the realization that it should give this time. Otherwise, we are looking at a disaster.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-45.

On October 13, I introduced two pieces of important legislation in the House of Commons. First, Bill C-45 proposes a framework for legalizing, strictly regulating, and restricting access to cannabis in Canada. The second complementary piece of legislation, Bill C-46, proposes new and stronger laws to more seriously tackle alcohol and drug-impaired driving, including cannabis. I am proud to note that Bill C-46 has been passed by the House and is being studied in the other place.

I am pleased to speak again today about Bill C-45 and discuss some of the amendments that were carried during the Standing Committee on Health's extensive study of the bill. I would like to thank all committee members for their considerable amount of work on this file. The committee reviewed 115 briefs and heard from nearly 100 different witnesses, who provided their invaluable perspectives on a wide array of issues, ranging from law enforcement to public health.

Groups represented at committee included the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Criminal Lawyers' Association, the Métis National Council, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Public Health Association, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Officials from Colorado and Washington state also provided testimony on their states' experience in the legalization of cannabis.

After hearing from the witnesses, several amendments were proposed at clause-by-clause consideration of the bill. I will speak to some of these worthwhile amendments in a moment, but first I would like to remind members what Bill C-45 is all about.

Bill C-45 would create a legal framework whereby adults would be able to access legal cannabis through an appropriate retail framework sourced from a well-regulated industry or grown in limited amounts at home. Under the proposed legislation, the federal, provincial, and territorial governments will all share in responsibility for overseeing the new system. The federal government will oversee the production and manufacturing components of the cannabis framework and set industry-wide rules and standards.

To that end, our fall economic statement of 2017 has earmarked $526 million of funding to license, inspect, and enforce all aspects of the proposed cannabis act. Provincial and territorial governments will in turn be responsible for the distribution and sale components of the framework.

Beyond the legislative framework outlining the rules for production, retail sale, distribution, and possession, cannabis will remain a strictly prohibited substance.

Division 1 of part 1 of the proposed act clearly sets out that many of the offences that currently apply to cannabis under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act will continue to exist under the proposed cannabis act. This is very much in keeping with the recommendations contained in the final report of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation.

In its report, the task force recommended that criminal offences should be maintained for illicit production, trafficking, possession for the purposes of trafficking, possession for the purposes of export, and import/export.

I will now speak to the amendments adopted by the committee. Let me begin by saying that our government supports all the amendments adopted by the Standing Committee on Health. At this time, I would like to speak about five specific amendments that were adopted during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-45.

First, the height restriction for cannabis plants permitted to be grown at home was eliminated. The 100-centimetre height restriction was intended to balance the interest to allow personal cultivation while safeguarding against the known risks associated with large plants, including the risk of diversion outside of the licit regime. The height restriction, indeed the proposal to allow even limited personal cultivation, attracted significant commentary both before the health committee and in the general public.

We understand the complexities leading to the task force's recommendation of a 100-centimetre height limit and accept the health committee's conclusion after it listened to several witnesses about the problems that such a limit might realistically create.

Our government agrees that this issue is best addressed outside of the criminal law. Should they wish, provinces and territories. relying on their own legislative powers. could address plant heights and if legislative authority exists or is extended to municipalities, they could do so as well.

Second, the addition of the good Samaritan provision will exempt individuals from criminal charges for simple possession if they call medical services or law enforcement following a life threatening medical emergency involving a psychoactive substance. Evidence demonstrates that individuals experiencing or witnessing an overdose or an acute medical condition are often afraid to call emergency assistance due to the fear of prosecution. A good Samaritan clause in the proposed cannabis act will help to ensure that individuals contact and co-operate with emergency services in the context of a medical emergency, knowing that they will not face prosecution for minor possession offences.

Third, the amendments to the Non-smokers' Health Act, provides flexibility to prohibit the smoking or vaping of tobacco or cannabis in specific outdoor areas or spaces by regulation in federal workplaces to protect people from exposure to tobacco or cannabis smoke. This aligns with the recommendation by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Fourth, courts will have the discretion of imposing a fine of up to $200 for an accused convicted of a ticketable offence rather than imposing a fixed fine in the amount of $200. This will ensure that the courts can consider a range of factors in setting the fine, including the ability of the accused to pay the fine.

Finally, an amendment was adopted to require a review of the proposed cannabis act three years after its coming into force and to table a report in Parliament on the results of this review.

Given the transformative nature of the proposed legislation, it is important that our government clearly communicates to Parliament and to the Canadian public the impact the legislation will have on achieving our objectives of protecting youth and reducing the role of organized crime. This will enable us as parliamentarians to determine whether future changes to the legislation are necessary to help ensure the protection of public health and safety.

I will now speak to the significant discussion that has occurred in relation to the treatment of young persons under the proposed cannabis act.

On the one hand, the Standing Committee on Health heard from witnesses, including criminal defence lawyers and the Canadian Nurses Association, who argued that youth possession of cannabis should not be subject to criminal penalties, because making it a criminal offence for a youth to possess five grams of cannabis would not deter them from possessing. It would only serve to perpetuate the disproportionate enforcement of laws on young, marginalized, and racialized members of our society.

On the other hand, others, including opposition members, have called for a zero tolerance in relation to the possession of cannabis by youth. Our government is mindful of the concerns raised in relation to the exemption of young persons from criminal prosecution for possession or sharing of up to five grams of cannabis and the suggestion that this decision is sending the wrong message to youth.

As I discussed at my appearance before the committee, our government has drafted Bill C-45 to specifically ensure that there are no legal means for a young person to purchase or acquire cannabis. Young persons should not have access to any amount of cannabis.

At the same time, criminalizing youth for possessing or sharing very small amounts of cannabis recognizes the negative impacts that exposure to the criminal justice system can have on our young people, particularly marginalized young persons.

Our focus aligns with what the majority of respondents conveyed to the task force; that criminal sanctions should be focused on adults who provide cannabis to youth, not on the youth themselves. This does not mean that our government sees youth possession or consumption of cannabis as acceptable. Our government has given much thought as to how we will keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and discourage them from using cannabis at all.

Our government has been encouraging the provinces and territories to create administrative offences that would prohibit youth from possessing any amounts of cannabis without exposing them to the criminal justice system. Police would be given authority to seize cannabis from youth with small amounts. Provinces and territories use this measured approach for alcohol and tobacco possession by young persons, and it has proven to be successful. We were pleased to hear that Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta have already announced their plans to create just such prohibitions, and we expect other jurisdictions to follow suit.

This approach is complemented by the other significant protections for youth in Bill C-45. The proposed act creates new offences for those adults who either sell or distribute cannabis to youth, or who use a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence. It protects young people from promotional enticements to use cannabis, prohibits cannabis product packaging or labelling that are appealing to youth, and prohibits the sale of cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines.

In addition to these legislative mechanisms, I would also like to remind members that our government will be undertaking a broad public education campaign to inform Canadians of all ages about the proposed legislation, including penalties for providing cannabis to youth and the risks involved with consuming cannabis. This public education campaign will focus on helping young Canadians make the best choices about their future and to understand the risks and consequences of using cannabis. This public education and awareness campaign has already begun, and it will continue to be an ongoing priority. To that end, last month our government announced $36.4 million over five years in funding for public education and awareness. This is in addition to the $9.6 million over five years toward a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign, and surveillance activities that we announced in budget 2017.

I will now turn to the implementation and timing of Bill C-45. Much has been conveyed about the timing of the implementation of the proposed cannabis act, with the suggestion being made that provinces and territories will not be ready, or that law enforcement will not be ready. Several witnesses at committee, however, rightfully pointed out that we need to act now. The Canadian Public Health Association responded to claims that we are not ready for legalization by advising the committee of the following:

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of time, as Canadians are already consuming cannabis at record levels. The individual and societal harms associated with cannabis use are already being felt every day. The proposed legislation and eventual regulation is our best attempt to minimize those harms and protect the well-being of all Canadians.

Witnesses at committee further pointed out that there is always a perception that more time is needed, but that any delays would contribute to confusion among the population.

Our government agrees that we need to act now, and we have been working closely with provinces and territories on many fronts, including through a federal-provincial-territorial senior officials working group. The working group has been kept apprised of developments on this file over the last year through meetings via teleconference every three weeks, as well as in-person meetings. Most recently, a meeting took place here in Ottawa on October 17 and 18.

Since the introduction of Bill C-45, several federal-provincial-territorial issue-specific working groups have also been established to collaborate more closely on a range of complex issues, including drug-impaired driving, ticketable offences, taxation, and public education.

Our government recognizes that providing support to provinces and territories for this work is critical. That is why we have committed, for instance, up to $81 million specifically to the provinces and territories to train front-line officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of impaired driving, build law enforcement capacity across the country, and provide access to drug screening devices.

Our government is encouraged by the tremendous amount of work that has already been carried out in the provinces and territories. Many jurisdictions committed to and have completed public consultations on how cannabis legalization should be implemented.

Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Alberta have released proposed legislation and frameworks describing how they will approach recreational cannabis, and Manitoba has enacted the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act. Clearly, many provinces are moving forward in anticipation of the July 2018 time frame.

Recognizing that some provinces and territories may not have systems in place by the summer of 2018, our government is proposing to facilitate interim access to a regulated quality controlled supply from a federally licensed producer via online ordering, with secure home delivery through mail or courier.

Our government's intention is to offset the broader costs associated with implementing this new system by collecting licensing and other fees, as well as through revenues generated through taxation, as is the case with the tobacco and alcohol industry. Discussions with provinces and territories around the proposed taxation plan have already begun and will continue. As part of our consultations on this matter, we welcome the feedback of all Canadians to ensure that we achieve the goal of keeping prices low enough to put criminals out of business while helping to offset the costs of education, administration, and enforcement.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that Canada's current approach to cannabis continues to contribute to the profits of organized crime, risks to public health and safety, and exposes thousands of Canadians to criminal records for minor cannabis offences each year. Most Canadians no longer believe that simple possession of small amounts of cannabis should be subjected to harsh criminal sanctions. I would like to conclude by encouraging all members of this House to support Bill C-45, as amended by the Standing Committee on Health.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Mr. Speaker, I sit on the health committee along with a number of other wonderful people, and we do some good work. We listened to many presenters on this bill at committee, one in particular being Professor Steven Hoffman, an expert in international law who teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School. He is very concerned about Bill C-45 being passed and violating three United Nations treaties that Canada signed onto years ago. This particular bill would violate those three treaties.

How does the minister plan to deal with the United Nations and our international friends when this bill is passed?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of the committee for their substantive work on Bill C-45. As I have said with respect to this bill, protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority of our government. That is why we are taking a careful regulatory approach to cannabis legalization.

Our officials have been very open, honest, and reflective in embracing discussions from across the country and throughout the world. We have been working actively with international experts, including the United Nations, to determine the best course forward on our international commitments. I want to remind the members of this House that eight American states, including the District of Columbia, have already decided to legalize recreational marijuana. We are committed to ensuring that we continue to work with our global partners to best promote public health and combat illicit drug trafficking.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has acknowledged from the beginning the devastating impacts that criminalization of simple cannabis possession and usage has had on Canadians. In fact, the government knows that those impacts have been particularly damaging for marginalized Canadians, such as the young, racialized, indigenous, and poor. Yet one of the ironies is that this legislation maintains that criminalized prohibitionist approach. Any Canadian caught with 31 grams of cannabis in public, who grows five plants, or is an 18-year-old in Alberta selling to a 17-year-old faces criminal prosecution, conviction, and penalties of up to 14 years in jail.

She is the Minister of Justice and knows there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who carry criminal convictions today that have devastated their lives in many respects. What plans does she have, as the Minister of Justice, for granting those Canadians pardons for engaging in activities that, come next July, will be entirely legal in this country?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-45, as all members of the House have heard me state before, and what we are committed to, is legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis to keep it out of the hands of young people, and the proceeds of its sale out of the hands of criminals. As I have stated many times, simply decriminalizing it at this point would not assist us in achieving those objectives.

What I have been doing, and what I am committed to continue to do, is to work with my colleague, the Minister of Public Safety. We have recognized that over-criminalization of the possession of small amounts of cannabis is something that needs to be addressed. We have sought to address this in Bill C-45. Again, in conversations with the Minister of Public Safety, we are considering how we can approach record suspensions.

However, our focus right now is to change the status quo to ensure that we put in place a comprehensive framework for the legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis by young people.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, first, I must commend not only the lead minister but also the other departments that engaged in making this proposed legislation possible. In particular, there was a fairly lengthy process that ensured that Canadians were thoroughly consulted.

For me, representing Winnipeg North, one of the biggest benefits I see from this proposed legislation will be its impact on the criminal activities of gang members, and so forth, who go into our schools and sell cannabis to 12, 14, or 15 year olds. This proposed legislation is a step in the right direction, as it would minimize the damage caused to young people and, at the same time, literally take hundreds of millions of dollars away from criminal gangs, and so forth.

Could the minister comment either on what it took to get the legislation before us today, or on the criminal aspect?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my comments, the status quo simply is not working. Our government has been committed to the legalization, strict regulation, and restriction of access to cannabis from day one.

To the first part of the question, we have engaged in extensive consultations to ensure that we heard from Canadians right across the country. The first step we took, a vitally important step, was to engage a task force on cannabis. The task force consisted of experts in justice, public health and safety, and law enforcement. This task force was led by the hon. Anne McLellan, and it provided us with substantive recommendations. Most of those recommendations are contained in Bill C-45. The task force received 30,000 submissions from Canadians across the country.

We introduced Bill C-45 and have continued throughout to engage with provinces and territories, municipalities, and indigenous communities and indigenous governments. We will continue to do that as we move towards July 2018 to ensure that we have a substantive, comprehensive framework for the legalization of cannabis in this country.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have been following this debate closely, and there are many things the minister has said that are simply not so. For example, she talked about record levels of marijuana use. However, from the Statistics Canada website, I have in front of me a comprehensive Canadian addiction survey that looked at drug and alcohol use. In in 2004, 14.1% of Canadians reported they had used cannabis in the last year; in 2008, it was 11.4%; in 2010 it was 10.6%; and in 2011 it was 9.1%.

The Conservative approach in government was to emphasize the importance of public health information and working with all aspects of society, including law enforcement, in a way that reflects the real risk associated with marijuana, and, yes, in a way that keeps it out of the hands of children. However, letting parents with children at home grow marijuana and making it legal for one child to give marijuana to another child, rather than selling it to them, is perfectly legal under the proposed legislation. This will not keep it out of the hands of children.

The minister might disagree on certain points philosophically, but I just want to know if she acknowledges the reality of the data, namely that marijuana use has gone down significantly during the last 10 years. Does she think that is a failure?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are a government that bases its actions on science, evidence, and certainly, on data. The latest data available in 2015 shows the prevalence of cannabis use in the past year was one in five Canadians aged 15 to 19, and nearly one in three aged 20 to 24. The rate of cannabis use in this country, particularly among young people, is among the highest in the world.

The status quo simply is not working. We need to ensure that we put a comprehensive framework in place around the legalization, the strict regulation, and the restriction of access to young people. This is the purpose and intent of Bill C-45. This comprehensive framework would be similar to tobacco.

We will ensure we do as much as we can to keep cannabis out of the hands of kids while at the same time ensuring we invest $40 million in the promotion of an educational campaign, a public awareness campaign, particularly among young people, about the risks of using cannabis. That is what we are committed to doing while working with other jurisdictions.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate at second reading, through committee hearings, and now finally, in the final debate, mounds and mounds of evidence have been introduced and cited, painting a grim picture of the consequences of the government's determination to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

Still, the Liberal government is bound and determined to ram this legislation through, so that by July 1, 2018, Canada's 151st birthday, youth as young as 18 will be able to legally purchase marijuana from government outlets, and use this drug with virtually no restrictions.

I have been allotted 20 minutes to present my objections to this harmful legislation, but would need hours to present all the evidence presented by doctors, psychiatrists, researchers, police, parents, and a host of specialists warning the government not to go down this road, and of the serious consequences if it does.

I will instead focus on a few articles and studies, and ask the members across the floor, how can they can justify their actions, having had prior knowledge to these?

I hold in my hand mandate letters from the Prime Minister to ministers on expectations and deliveries. I will be using them in my presentation to point out just how this action by the Prime Minister has been broken by his ministers.

The Prime Minister presented all ministers with these mandate letters after the last election.

The mandate letter to the Minister of Health reads:

I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and his or her senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest.

I wonder if the minister, at that point, informed the Prime Minister about this document from her own department, modified on August 19, 2016. I am sure she was aware of it. This document, among other things, states:

Using cannabis or any cannabis product can impair your concentration, your ability to think and make decisions, and your reaction time and coordination. This can affect your motor skills, including your ability to drive. It can also increase anxiety and cause panic attacks, and in some cases cause paranoia and hallucinations.

It further states:

Cannabis should not be used if you:

are under the age of 25;

are allergic to any cannabinoid or to smoke;

have serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease;

have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder;

are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant, or are breast-feeding;

are a man who wishes to start a family;

have a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence.

A list of health outcomes regulated to the short and long-term use include the following:

increase the risk of triggering or aggravating psychiatric and/or mood disorders (schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder);

decrease sperm count, concentration and motility, and increase abnormal sperm morphology;

negatively impact the behavioural and cognitive development of children born to mothers who used cannabis during pregnancy.

This document was available to the minister. It clearly shows that in reaction to that, she is breaking what the Prime Minister instructed her to do. I am going to read another that the Prime Minister has written:

No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

That was to the Minister of Indigenous Services in the opening statement. Why did the minister not sound the alarm and give the Prime Minister the message that she received from President Aluki Kotierk of the Nunavut Tunngavik? She said:

The federal government needs to consult with Inuit on whether cannabis should be legalized and, if so, when, as well as plan to deal with the possible negative impacts of legalizing cannabis...

It goes on. Chief Gina Deer of the Mohawk Council of Kanawakee stated:

Our community has been zero tolerance for many years on drugs. Now when you tell them that we have to accept marijuana as a legal product and not as a drug, it’s hard to accept, especially for elders.

The Prime Minister further stated to the Minister of Crown-Indigineous Relations:

I expect you to re-engage in a renewed nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples to make real progress on the issues most important to First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit communities--issues like housing, employment, health and mental health care...

This is what Chief Isadore Day stated in testimony at committee:

It's accurate to say that first nations are also not prepared to deal with the ramifications of Bill C-45. Does Canada even know the full impacts of cannabis yet? When the states of Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis sales in 2013, American Indian tribes were negatively impacted.

Further, Chief Day also stated at committee that despite hearing this, the Liberals continue to reaffirm that it's important that we focus on getting this job done as quickly as we are able.

The chief reiterated that one of the biggest concerns that first nations have with Bill C-45 is the health and safety of our people. He cited statistics that cannabis is the second most abused substance among indigenous people. He added that in Ontario alone, $33 million is needed to treat first nations with drug and alcohol addictions. He concluded by stating that there appears to be more questions than answers. This leaves the first nations in a compromising state, leading to an accelerated timeline.

The Prime Minister also said to the minister:

Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to address gaps in services to Aboriginal people and those with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system.

She should have told him about the health report that I mentioned previously, and the concerns that his own government had with the legalization and usage of marijuana.

Health Canada stated warnings, and I have mentioned some, but it serves to mention these as well:

Cannabis contains hundreds of substances, some of which can affect the proper functioning of the brain and central nervous system. The use of this product involves risks to health, some of which may not be known or fully understood. Cannabis should not be used if you have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia...

The Prime Minister loves to point out to the Minister of Justice, who just spoke, his great love and respect for the charter. In his mandate to the minister he stated:

You are expected to ensure that the rights of Canadians are protected, that our work demonstrates the greatest possible commitment to respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A child advocate group in New Brunswick has done an assessment of violations to the rights of the child treaty, and has a very serious concern that this legislation is going to see legal challenges. I wonder if the minister should have told the Prime Minister that a court challenge, which is what it has stated, is a good idea under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 states:

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

The minister should have warned him that by legalizing marijuana, a drug with psychoactive properties, the Government of Canada will encourage the sale and consumption of marijuana, thereby putting all Canadians at greater risk of encountering harm and death through impaired driving accidents and workplace accidents, smoking-related sicknesses, and other marijuana-induced injuries. For example, police chiefs across the country have expressed their concern that they will not be able to keep the public safe from drugged drivers. Thus, the proposal to legalize marijuana runs contrary to the charter provision, the right to the security of the person.

To the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, he wrote:

As Minister...your overarching goal will be to lead our government’s work in ensuring that we are keeping Canadians safe.

Here again, I would raise the report from the health department, but I would also make mention of a report that has just come out, “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact”. The executive summary states, “Marijuana-related traffic deaths when a driver was positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 deaths in 2013 to 123 deaths in 2016.” This same executive summary states, “In 2009, Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths involving drivers testing positive for marijuana represented 9 percent of the traffic deaths. By 2016, that number has more than doubled to 20 percent.” It goes on, and there are statistics that talk about what happens to the youth and how youth use has risen dramatically as well.

This might be my favourite. The Prime Minister wrote to the Minister of Science, the same minister who has repeatedly, in this House, stood up and said that the current government will listen to science, because the Prime Minister told her this:

We are a government that believes in science – and a government that believes that good scientific knowledge should inform decision-making.

I wonder if that minister told the Prime Minister about the report on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, or possibly this report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Here is a great one she should have read, from Frontiers in Psychiatry: “Persistency of Cannabis Use Predicts Violence following Acute Psychiatric Discharge”. There is this lengthy report from the World Health Organization: “The Health and Social Effects of Nonmedical Cannabis Use”.

It goes on and on. I am sure the minister read the “Market Analysis of Plant-based Drugs C. The Cannabis Market”, from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Every one of these reports points to the same conclusion: the use of cannabis is restricted for a reason. There is a reason governments have, on a continual basis, made that their practice.

I have often stated in this House that I am genuinely impressed by the Liberal caucus. It is full of doctors and lawyers and Ph.D.s and Rhodes scholars. This is not a group of people who could be excused for not having the information.

I found a great article by James Di Fiore, written in the Huffington Post. He wrote:

I've written about my modest contribution to the elimination of pot prohibition before. To recap, in 2011 I was hired by the Liberal Party of Canada's upper brass to pressure their delegates to vote yes on a policy initiative that would push for legalization. For three months, my team approached marijuana advocacy groups and rallied their members to bombard [all] delegates via email, tweets and Facebook messages. The plan was to put enough pressure on delegates until they voted for a Canada who would shed its draconian views on weed. When we started, just 30 per cent of delegates [30 per cent of that caucus] were in [the] camp. After the votes were tallied at the Liberals' 2012 convention, more than 75 per cent of delegates voted yes.

This group can make the right choice. I know that there are many in the Liberal caucus who are opposed to what the government is doing and what the Prime Minister is forcing them to do as well. Now is the time for them to stand up, make the right choice, and vote against this dangerous bill.

I might add that the Prime Minister is not leading a bold charge that will make this an example of progressive nations. Let us listen to what Prime Minister Mark Rutte, of the Netherlands, said, in a 2014 article about the use of marijuana. “People should do with their own bodies whatever they please, as long as they are well informed about what that junk does to them”. The Dutch have a different approach to the whole idea of marijuana.

The article went on, “Rutte added in the same interview that cannabis legalization of the Colorado model”, and I should emphasize that the Colorado model is for those 21 years old and over, “where the state taxes and regulates all levels of the supply chain, and adults 21 and over are allowed to purchase weed from state-licensed stores—was out of the question. 'If we were to do that, ' he said, 'we'd be the laughing stock of Europe.'”

This not going to be a progressive move by the Prime Minister and the Liberal caucus. As a matter of fact, while the Dutch system has some major drawbacks, current UN treaties forbid countries to legalize and regulate drugs for recreational use. Specifically, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,1961, states that member states have a general obligation “to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs.”

Piet Hein van Kempen, a professor of criminal law and criminal procedure in the Netherlands, was recently asked by the justice ministry to study whether international drug treaties offer any wiggle room to legalize, decriminalize, tolerate, or regulate cannabis in any other way for recreational use. His answer was an emphatic no. Maybe when the Prime Minister gets to meet his new best friend, Xi Jinping, he can tell him about his plans to legalize marijuana and ask for his thoughts. I am sure he would give the Prime Minister a history lesson on what took place in Chinese society.

The Liberals are on track to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes by July 1, 2018. They say they have had extensive consultations, conducted the largest online survey, and completed a report called “A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada”. The Liberals say they have consulted with Canadians; provincial, territorial, and municipal governments; indigenous governments; representatives of organizations; youth; parents; and experts in relevant fields. Ignoring the warnings of doctors, police chiefs, and first nations parents, they have pushed this bill rapidly through the House.

This bill would drastically change Canadian society, the full ramifications felt for years to come. They say it will protect us and take marijuana out of the hands of criminals. I suggest it would enslave our youth and make the government the new pusher on the block.

I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Health for the purpose of reconsidering clause 226 with the view to establish a coming into force date that complies with the wishes of those provinces, territories, municipalities, law enforcement officials and first nation groups who require more time to prepare for the legalization of cannabis.”

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:20 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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the remarks made by my colleague from Chatham-Kent—Leamington, and I want to bring some clarification to one of the remarks he made. I listened very carefully, and he said that police chiefs, in the plural, but unnamed, did not support the effort or believe that we were going to bring forward adequate measures to deal with impaired driving.

I want to quote the testimony of Chief Mario Harel, the elected president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who appeared before the justice committee on Bill C-46. He said:

We certainly commend the government for its commitment to consultation of stakeholders and the public. We commend the efforts of ministers, all parliamentarians, and public servants at Public Safety, Justice, and Health Canada who are dedicated to bringing forward the best legislation possible. All share with us the desire to do this right, knowing that the world is watching.

The government has put forward strong legislation not only focused on impairment by drugs but also addressing ongoing issues related to alcohol impairment.

He went on to say:

Steps that have been introduced to reform the entire impaired driving scheme are seen as much needed and very positive. The CACP has called for such changes in the past, specifically in support of modernizing the driving provision of the Criminal Code, supporting mandatory alcohol screening, and eliminating common loophole defences. Tough new impairment driving penalties introduced in this legislation are strongly supported by the CACP.

This, of course, includes all the chiefs in Canada. Finally, he said:

We also acknowledge funding announced recently to support law enforcement for cannabis and drug-impaired driving. The government has been listening.

In light of this testimony from the head of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, would the member like to comment on his earlier remark with respect to an unnamed chief offering some other opinion?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I respect the member's office, and I thank him for his service for years as a police chief. He knows that I have three sons who serve in the police department, and as such, I have had much contact with the police force.

My colleague has passed me some information. I am not going to read that. The truth of the matter is that my eyesight is not good enough.

I do know that there is not a consensus among police chiefs. When we talk about Bill C-46 being the act to strengthen the Criminal Code in respect of driving, those steps are necessary and police chiefs would certainly agree with that, but I also know that police chiefs, police officers, and those involved in law enforcement have repeatedly said that at the very least, they are not prepared for this, and they do not have the tools or what is required to enforce this new legislation.

Municipalities would need a host of new equipment and much more money. These things have not been provided. That is a small point, but the member must also acknowledge that this is not a complete picture of what the police chiefs have been saying.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify this idea of what some police chiefs may or may not believe.

I have many family members, including children, who are in law enforcement. Many people reflect a lot of the emotion that sometimes goes along with this issue. The idea of mandatory minimums and a war on drugs approach is not as effective as had been envisioned at one time. As a matter of fact, a criminal record for this non-violent offence is a social determinant of health.

I wonder if the member has had a chance to consider what the public health approach might be, because we need effective solutions moving forward.

Would the member agree that we need to have a regulated environment? Would he also agree that a public campaign should include how to keep children away from this product? What does he think would be the most effective way for us to do that as we move forward with this?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 22nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Leamington, ON

Mr. Speaker, we must not confuse Bill C-45 with the decriminalization of marijuana, although that is part of this legislation. Conservatives also agree that for minor possession that portion should be struck from the Criminal Code.

Educating children and youth from the ages of 11 to 17 is important. Those under the age of 18 will not be allowed to smoke marijuana, but allowing them to have possession of up to five joints certainly is not the type of education that we on this side of the House envision.

Sweden has spent a lot of money and has done a lot of training and as a result has seen its rate of usage drop, and that country has not legalized marijuana.

The member is correct. We should and we must educate. We should be telling people. The report that I referred to from Health Canada should be in every home and in every school. We should be warning children about the dangers. We should warn young people about what marijuana can do to them if they use it before the age of 25 and who knows what could happen after that. That should be a part of our education system.

If we put the time and energy that the Liberal government is prepared to spend on this legislation into education, we would have a whole different scenario in this country.