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 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about unintended consequences. I am interested to hear his comments on Canadians who go to the U.S. I bring that up because one of my constituents, a good friend of mine, went to Las Vegas. I know he does not have anything to do with drugs or marijuana. He smelled something strange in his hotel room. When he went to the airport, the sniffer dogs found traces of marijuana on him. He was pulled aside and embarrassed, while the dogs went through his bags. He was being accused of something he did not do.

Could my hon. colleague comment on other actions that may happen?

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

This is a perfect question, Madam Speaker. When I talked to my family member on the Edmonton police force, he said that one of the strange things that politicians would not get was that marijuana was a drug that had a strong smell. Once it was legalized, drug dealers would have little pouches of pot on them, hoping the smell would cover up the other drugs they might be dealing. He said that the legalization of marijuana would make it harder for him, as an Edmonton city police officer, to enforce actions against other illegal drugs.

These issues are going to continue to pop up. The government has not thought this legislation through.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I want to discuss some of the comments about about Colorado. The Washington Post recently contained an article by the Drug Policy Alliance. It said a couple of things. One was that the statistics in Colorado of individuals who said that usage had increased were simply not true on a couple of bases: first, those numbers were already way up above the national average before legalization ever occurred; and second, the effect on teenagers was, in fact, unchanged, that it had not come down and it had not gone up. Traffic fatalities were the same, but arrests and police resources were way down.

I hope the member would agree with me. What we did on tobacco with respect to investing in de-normalization, explaining to young people the dangers of the drug, pulling it from the shade into the open, making those types of measures and the success we saw with tobacco, mean we could have the kind of prevalence rates we enjoy with tobacco, which are under 10%. They could be lower, they could be better. However, (a) we cannot misrepresent what happens in Colorado, and (b) there are some good examples we could follow to make things work.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, we can deal with marijuana the same way as tobacco without legalizing it.

In response to the hon. member, his statistics are wrong. He is citing statistics from only one year after legalization, when there was a very modest dip, but not the last three or four years when rates across the board went up. The other thing the hon. member did not note, and may not be aware of, is that Colorado had large-scale commercialization due to incredible liberalization of the medical marijuana industry. If we look at when Colorado was essentially similar to other states, when it had de facto commercialization to when it had whole legalization, we see almost a straight line going up in usage rates.

The hon. member is actually incorrect. I would urge him to table the article in The Washington Post in the House. I will happily table my studies in the next few days. Mine is updated from October 2017, the 127 page report. I will email it to the member next week.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

My question, Madam Speaker, is about an aspect of Colorado policy, which I think is very good and is not present in Bill C-45. In Colorado, individual municipalities and counties can decide whether to allow marijuana sales. Some have allowed it; some have not. There is no availability of this kind of local option in Canada. Could my hon. colleague comment on that distinction?

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, something like that would be useful, particularly as this issue was brought up to me by an aboriginal chief from northern Saskatchewan, who said they had enough problems with alcohol and the legalization of marijuana would cause more issues for them. He wishes he had the power to deal with it in his communities. This is a disaster for many remote communities that deal with severe social problems.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to the proposed legislation on marijuana.

This is nothing more than the Liberals raising taxes once again. I have been spending quite a while trying to figure out what drives the Liberals. I have come to the conclusion that it is how to raise taxes on all Canadians.

This legislation makes no sense. There is no coherent message to it whatsoever. The Liberals say that they want to keep marijuana out of the hands of children and, at the same time, they will legalize it. If we look at it through the lens of raising taxes, it starts to make some sense. This bill is all about that.

The Liberals have this figured out that if they legalize marijuana, there is perhaps a tax windfall, although not a great tax windfall. The Liberals do not go after the big fish. They go after people who have small tax credits, and things like that.

I do not think this will raise a whole bunch of money for the national coffers, but it will raise a little cash from legalizing marijuana, and therefore taxing it. The bill is all about that.

People may wonder why the Liberals need to raise taxes. They need to raise them so they can give it to their friends around the world. They have given nearly half a billion dollars to an infrastructure bank in Asia. In turn, that bank will use some of that money to build pipelines in Asia. We cannot even get pipelines built in this country. However, we are giving money to infrastructure banks across the world and they are building pipelines with that money.

This Liberal government is completely out of touch with the needs of Canadians, and this bill is nothing more than that.

What else are the Liberals doing with this money? They are bailing out Bombardier. I sent out a ten percenter to my riding, asking if anybody was in favour of the Liberals bailing out Bombardier. Believe it or not, nobody sent it back to me saying he or she was totally happy with the Bombardier bailout, that this was amazing work.

Bombardier is being sold to Airbus, a company out of France. Will Bombardier repay the taxpayer? Will it make them whole? No. Do the Liberals have a balanced budget issue? Yes. How will they raise the money? One of the ways they will raise it is through taxing marijuana.

As I said, this bill is nothing more than a way to raise some tax money. The government has been spending it on infrastructure banks in Asia and on Bombardier.

When I questioned the innovation minister on why the taxpayer would not be made whole with the deal between Airbus and Bombardier, he said that I did not stand up our aerospace industry. However, I do stand up for the aerospace industry in Canada and I am very proud of it. In fact, one of the greatest airplanes ever produced in the world would be the Avro Arrow, and that came from Canada. I am very proud of that fact.

What I am not proud of is the way the Liberals have treated the oil industry. The Liberals have never once stood up for the oil industry. They went to Calgary to announce an innovation cluster. We would have expected they had gone there to announce the innovation cluster for the oil industry or the energy sector, which is one of the most innovative sectors in our economy, but no. It was for agriculture. Agriculture in Calgary is completely out of touch.

What else do the Liberals need the money for? Members may have seen a $5 million skating rink on the front lawn. A hockey rink or a skating rink is quintessential Canadian and I grant that. However, I believe that within spitting distance of this very fancy hockey rink being built on Parliament Hill is the longest skating rink in the whole world. It is called the canal. That is the kind of thing the Liberals need to raise money for with the increase in taxes.

How do we know the Liberal government needs money so badly? I do not think putting a tax on marijuana is going to raise a great deal of money, particularly because I do not think the method the government is using to introduce it will stave off the black mark.

We already have a lot of contraband products when it comes to cigarettes. I do not see the difference here. I am not sure that when we get the government involved in regulating the prices, it will get the price perfect, and we will see the black market disappear. I am not convinced of that at all. Therefore, I do not see that there would be a great windfall.

The Liberals do not have a particular philosophy on how they raise taxes. They just think they can raise taxes wherever they can get it. We have seen this with the cancellation of the tax credit for folks with diabetes. Eighty per cent of the people who were formerly approved for the type 1 diabetes tax credit have now been taken off that list. It was not a great deal of money, but it was for those particular individuals. We can see the Liberals are not worried about raising taxes on everyday Canadians.

When we look at legalizing marijuana in order to tax it, suddenly it all makes sense. This is not about legalizing marijuana, or keeping it out of the hands of kids. It is not about making our country a safer place. This is about raising some tax dollars. As we look at it, we see the legalizing of marijuana is going to have some very detrimental effects. Granted, we may raise some money. I will give them that, but we will see increased traffic fatalities. We have seen this in other jurisdictions that have brought this on. Colorado, for example, has seen a 40% increase in traffic deaths in its jurisdiction since it legalized marijuana. In Canada, we have about 1,000 impaired driving fatalities in the country every year. A 40% increase is another 400 deaths. I do not know how we can justify legalizing marijuana when we know it is going to cause deaths across the country.

Not only that, we always get the comparisons with alcohol and smoking. They say those things are legal, why can marijuana not be legal. First, there is not really a direct connection with either of those other products. Neither of those other products permanently alter one's mind. Marijuana does permanently alter one's mind. I speak at schools, and the marijuana issue comes up. I always say that that is the number one thing. If someone smokes marijuana, there is a significant likelihood of them not graduating from high school; I am not sure exactly what the number is. I tell them that all the time.

Also folks who smoke marijuana have double the rate of psychosis. It doubles the rate of schizophrenia. Someone who is susceptible to schizophrenia and smokes marijuana is twice as susceptible to schizophrenia.

I do not understand this at all. The Liberals say they want to keep it out of the hands of children. To tell children that we are now legalizing it and then at the same time tell them we do not want them to use it, those two messages cancel each other out or even encourage marijuana use. It has nothing to do with the age limits they put on this stuff. I think that is left to the provinces, but they have definitely not put in an age limit. We hear everyone saying after 25 it may not affect your brain, but before 25, marijuana definitely affects one's brain in very detrimental ways.

I can come to no other conclusion than this particular bill to bring in legalization of marijuana has nothing to do with keeping our country safer, has nothing to do with keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, and has everything to do with raising a tiny amount of taxes.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was quite interesting to listen to my hon. friend on the other side. On one hand he said this is not going to raise a lot of money, but on the other hand he talked about the Asian infrastructure bank, Bombardier, Airbus, the oil industry, agriculture, and a hockey rink. He did not even mention some of the negative aspects of cannabis consumption. Does he think the option of not doing anything is the only option, like the Conservatives did in their 10 years? Does he not recognize that a judicious use of legislation and education is required to protect our youth from the negative aspects of cannabis consumption? I would like him to speak about that.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is it precisely.

If we were going to build legislation to reduce the level of consumption by youth, we could do just that. In fact, over the last 10 years, we had a successful track record of reducing the consumption of marijuana by youth. For the age group of 15 to 25, the rate of use went down from 34% to 24%. We had a system that was working. We were reducing the rate of consumption.

Could we have done more? Definitely, and we could do more. I would be all in favour of having a national strategy for reducing consumption of marijuana. However, I am not in favour of the bill before us whatsoever.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, one the goals of the bill, the government tells us, is to try and keep marijuana out of the hands of young people. The Liberals also tell us that they want to keep marijuana sales out of the hands of organized crime.

I had the chance to ask the justice minister that question. As someone who is not opposed to the legalization of marijuana, I did say, nevertheless, that the only way we can keep marijuana distribution out of the hands of organized crime is to undercut the price that organized crime is selling it at. If we do that, we would be lowering the price for all those who buy it, including young people. However, if the government tries to make direct sales to young people unlawful, presumably that would open up the space for organized crime.

I have not seen the Liberals square the circle on this particular policy point, and I wonder if my colleague could shed some light on this issue.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is exactly what the government is doing. Pardon the pun, it is sucking and blowing on this particular bill, because there is no way to square that circle. We cannot undercut the black market and keep it out of the hands of children at the same time. The government has no concept of how economics work. Therefore, with the bill before us, it is “a pie in the sky, just trust us on this”, and that is exactly what the government is asking us to do with the bill. Therefore, I will not be supporting it.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:30 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, it is unfortunate that the member has drawn the conclusion that he will not support this proposed legislation. This is legislation that was campaigned on in the last federal election, and the government got a very strong mandate. I think that Canadians as a whole want to see cannabis and marijuana dealt with in a very progressive fashion, and we have a bill that would really make a difference.

In terms of the criminal element, and the number of young people, this is good-news legislation. I would suggest to my Conservative colleagues across the way that they might want to reconsider their position on this proposed legislation. I believe society will be in a better place if we have a regime where there is strong regulation and the ability to keep more cannabis and marijuana out of the hands of children. We know that, here in Canada, we have the highest percentage per capita of children using cannabis of any country in the world.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, what we have here is a bill that is nothing like what the Liberals ran on in the federal election. In addition to that, the strong mandate that the member talked about is 39% of Canadians in support. It is not the majority of Canadians who have supported them. If the member is so adamant about the Liberals' position that they ran on in the election, they would have come up with a much more coherent bill.

The bill before us tries to say two opposite things at the same time. I do not know what to say on it anymore. The entire point of my speech was that the bill is nothing more than wanting to raise taxes off the legalization of marijuana. When we look at it through that lens, suddenly the bill might make a little sense.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-45.

Before I start my comments on Bill C-45, let me take a minute to reflect on the upcoming weekend and the remembrance services that many of us in this room will be attending this coming weekend, and to thank our veterans for the freedoms that we enjoy. Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending a number of remembrance services in New Dundee, New Hamburg, Linwood, and Elmira. This coming weekend, I will be in New Hamburg, Waterloo, Kitchener, and Elmira again. Let us just to think of the sacrifice that our veterans have made, and thank our legions for the great work that they do in not only supporting our veterans but also in helping us never to forget. I want to highlight that before I get into my remarks on Bill C-45.

There are a number of really important issues that are dealt with in this chamber on a daily basis. Over the last number of weeks, we have discussed a number of them, from rising debt to taxation, supposedly fair taxation, the economy, the deficit that is growing every day, and the amazing excessive interest we will be paying on that over the next four years of $33 billion per year. All of these things are important. However, in relation to the topic before us today, really they are of minor significance. This topic we are discussing today will have a life-changing impact not only on our youth and our citizens but on the very nation of Canada. I think it is important that we think clearly and soberly about the changes we are making, especially as it relates to three areas.

I first want to refer to our youth. That has been referred to many times today, the health, safety, and well-being of our children and our grandchildren, the safety of all Canadians on the roads, and the social risks that are involved in our communities with complaints and issues that will arise between neighbours.

However, let me first refer to our youth.

In question period today, my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska, and I just happened to catch it, made this great statement that the decisions we make reveal the values we hold. How much do we, as members of Parliament, in this room value the youth of Canada? That is a question that we need to ask. I believe youth are a sacred trust that every one of us in this room has an obligation to guard seriously. We cannot take this obligation lightly.

The Liberals claim repeatedly that the purpose of this legislation is to protect our young people and to increase public safety. How can we keep this drug out of the hands of our youth when we are actually allowing four plants per household? How can we say we are keeping it out of the hands of our youth when we are allowing 12-year-olds to have up to five grams in their possession? We often hear of people being polled about whether they favour the legalization of marijuana, and the polls are all over the place, but it is somewhere around 50:50 or 60:40. However, I am convinced that if we were to give the details of what this bill entails with respect to the availability of four plants per household and up to five grams for 12-year-olds, we would get a much different answer.

The Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Psychiatric Association have both stated that Canadians who consume marijuana recreationally under the age of 25 have a higher risk of developing mental illness, such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. We can all probably tell some anecdotal stories of family members or neighbours who have been derailed by the early use of marijuana.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association says:

Regular cannabis use in youth and young adults can affect aspects of cognition...attention, memory, processing speed, visuospatial functioning and overall intelligence. Worse performance is related to earlier adolescent onset of use.

I do not know how much earlier an onset one could get than offering this availability to a 12-year-old. Therefore, parents and grandparents are very concerned about the direction in which this bill is going.

Dr. Diane Kelsall in the Canadian Medical Association Journal wrote, “Most of us know a young person whose life was derailed because of marijuana use. Bill C-45 is unlikely to prevent such tragedies from occurring—and, conversely, may make them more frequent.”

There are far too many young people who have already been derailed. These are not just opinions, these are medical and psychiatric experts, and it is important that we listen to them.

I want to use the bulk of my time today to listen to one of the youth of Canada, who is concerned that this legislation and the actions we approve here in this House would, or could, in fact derail young people. She does not want to be one of those derailed, and she does not want her friends to be derailed. This young person is my granddaughter who wrote this two years ago, in November 2015, when she was 15 years old. She wrote:

Marijuana, the dangerous substance that damages our lungs, brain, educational value and social activity is the substance the government of Canada is trying to legalize. Claims say that legalization will erode the black market but in reality, legalizing marijuana will give people easier access to the drug. Recently I heard the testimony of a man who at age 14 was heading to Toronto for 420 with one hundred dollars worth of Marijuana. The fact that ten years ago a 14 year old boy who had no job and no car was able to get his hands on one hundred dollars worth of weed blows my mind. Can you imagine how easy it would be for someone to get marijuana now, especially if it were to become legal? Easier access to Marijuana will have many negative effects for Canada such as major health damage, ruining our educational system, our workplace and our society. The future of Canada rests in the hands of our generation, there is no way marijuana will be a positive tool in that regard....

With long term and short term effects the list of things that marijuana does to damage your health is endless. Short term effects include impaired memory, impaired body movement, changes in mood, hallucinations, paranoia, difficulty thinking and problem solving. Along with temporary damage Marijuana proves to once again be a dangerous substance having a long lasting effect on your brain and mental health. A study showed that people who started heavily smoking marijuana in their teens lost an average of eight IQ points between ages of 13 and 38. Even after quitting as an adult the lost mental abilities did not fully return. There are many different ways to consume Marijuana but no matter which way, it is harmful. Marijuana smoke contains the same tar and chemicals that are found in tobacco smoke which will lead to the inflammation of bronchitis. The drug harms cells lining and respiratory tract leading to precancerous changes that are associated with lung, head and neck cancer. Marijuana also stimulates your heart rate and blood pressure which can increase the risk of heart attack among individuals. I have named only a few of the health risks that occur when marijuana is consumed however, I hope that this is enough to strongly discourage you from believing the legalization of medical marijuana will infact be a positive thing in any way shape or form.

She went on:

The damage of marijuana does not end with your health, the drugs negative effect leads into your educational life as well. A review of 48 different relevant studies all found that marijuana use is associated with reduced chances of graduating. A recent analysis of data from studies in Australia and New Zealand found that youth who have used marijuana regularly were significantly less likely to finish highschool and obtain a degree than their non-using peers. Marijuana is encouraging lazy work habits and a 'don't care' attitude, leading students down the path of becoming a high school dropout. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that while under the influence of marijuana the still developing brain will have difficulty retaining memories, when related back to school this can seriously affect your learning skills as a student. “Falling behind in school is par for the course when marijuana use is a factor. It's not an issue solely based on loss of memory; they also report that psychological skills are reduced among students as well, decreasing their ability to sustain their self-confidence and remain focused on achieving academic and other goals”—NIDA. Even though marijuana is an illegal drug it has not stopped teens and students from buying and using the drug, what is to happen now if marijuana becomes legal? By legalizing this drug we are practically encouraging students to go out and get high, ruining their high school career and affecting whatever may lay beyond that....

Believe me when I say that marijuana not only negatively affects your health, your education but your social and work life as well. Studies show specific links between the use of marijuana and the workplace such as increased risk of injuries and accidents. One study among postal workers found that employees who tested positive for marijuana on a urine drug test had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries, and 75 percent greater absence compared with those who tested negative for marijuana. After all of the papers you wrote, tests you studied for and emotional trials you went through over the minimum of 16 years of schooling, is it really worth it to throw that all away for the temporary high of marijuana?

....Before make the decision to legalize this dangerous substance lets first think of all of the health risks caused by this drug, the negative effect that it would have on our educational system and how different and harmful the workplace and our economy would be with marijuana easily accessible and legal.

I have so much more to share.

Let me finish with some comments by Dr. Diane Kelsall, director of the Canadian Medical Association, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. She says, “If Parliament truly cares about the public health and safety of Canadians, especially our youth, this bill will not pass.”

I hope my colleagues will listen.

Report StageCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 9th, 2017 / 5:45 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 believe my colleague from Kitchener—Conestoga is sincerely concerned and I want to address some of those concerns so I might perhaps ease his mind.

My colleague has said, as did many of his colleagues earlier, that this legislation authorizes 12-year-olds to possess cannabis. That in fact is misleading, and it is really important for every member of the House to understand exactly how this law will be applied.

One of the harms that we are attempting to reduce in this legislation is the criminalization of kids. We do not believe the best way to protect our kids is to put them in jail, so under this legislation possession of over five grams will remain a criminal offence, but for amounts less than that, young persons aged 12 to the age of majority will be subject to an absolute prohibition on the possession, purchase, and consumption of this substance under provincial regulation.

We have worked with all of the provinces, and those who have already announced their regulatory regimes have made it very clear that they will enforce a prohibition. A young person between the ages of 12 and 18 or 19, depending on the provincial decision on what the age would be, would be subject to an absolute prohibition enforceable by a provincial offences ticket. The police could seize the drug. The police can charge the youth, not under the criminal law, but under a provincial statute. That is precisely how we deal with alcohol in each of our provinces and territories. This actually reduces a significant harm.

I hope this information might assist the member by addressing the concerns he has raised.