Cannabis Act

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

Sponsor

Status

In committee (Senate), as of March 22, 2018

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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

Bill C-45—Time Allocation MotionCannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 10:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's reiteration of the substantive investment of time that we have made. It has always been clear that this was a priority for our government. We engaged with a task force of experts, health experts and law enforcement, which provided us with substantive recommendations that we listened to. We listened to Canadians right across the country. We had the benefit of vigorous debate and discussion at the committee hearings, and amendments have been made.

We will continue to listen to Canadians, provinces, and territories, as well as municipalities, indigenous communities, and governments. This is a commitment we have made. We are committed to ensuring that we roll out robust public education and awareness campaigns around the risks of cannabis. Again, I appreciate all of the substantive efforts and engagement by many people right across the country.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to continue my remarks on Bill C-45. As I shift into my discussion and the details of the legislation, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to the former deputy prime minister of Canada and former member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, the hon. Anne McLellan. Her work, and the work of her task force, has laid a foundation for a new legislative regime that will make Canada a leader in the safe regulation of recreational cannabis.

Let me share some of the details found in the legislation. Under the existing regime, which has been in place since 2014, Health Canada is responsible for licensing and overseeing cannabis producers. These producers are required to operate within the regulations to provide quality-controlled cannabis to registered patients. This rigorous licensing process ensures, for example, that entrants to this market have gone through a thorough security check and that producers have appropriate physical security infrastructure in place. Canada also has a world-class compliance and enforcement regime intended to ensure that licensed producers fully comply with the rules in place.

Over the course of the last year, a licensed producer in Canada was inspected an average of seven to eight times, for a total of approximately 274 inspections. In May, 2017, Health Canada announced it will require all licensed producers to conduct mandatory testing for the presence of unauthorized pesticides in all cannabis products destined for sale. This adds to the system of controls in place that oversee the quality of federally regulated cannabis products. This experience will have a direct impact on the health of Canadians who may choose to use this product.

Believe it or not, a large number of Canadians who get cannabis on the black market cannot rely on quality control regulations. This bill is about safety. It is working when it comes to medical cannabis, and it is going to work under this framework. The commercial industry now has more than four years of experience and serves over 200,000 active patient registrations. This licensed production under the medical regime provides a solid basis to support cannabis production under the bill.

With the world-renown regime for producing cannabis for medical purposes, the government is on solid ground to successfully move to a new approach to cannabis that would better protect Canadians.

Our government has been working and will continue to work very closely with provinces, territories, municipalities, and indigenous communities to support the implementation of this new framework. In fact, I had a meeting with councillors from my own city of Edmonton, who met with the parliamentary secretary for the minister of justice on this file. It was a very frank and open conversation about the work the Government of Canada will be doing with the province and with the City of Edmonton. This collaboration will be critical to ensuring that all the pieces are in place to support the success of the new approach. We are pleased to note the progress being achieved by our provincial and territorial partners in developing their respective approaches.

Canada is a federal system. Provinces and territories will and must have a key role to play in the success of the new system. They would be responsible for the oversight and regulation of the distribution and retail sale of cannabis, in close collaboration with municipalities.

In cases where provinces or territories do not have a fully functional retail sales system in place once the bill takes effect, adults will be able to buy cannabis directly from the authorized federal producer by ordering it online for secure home delivery by mail or courier.

Industry representatives have indicated they are getting ready to support the timely implementation of the new regime and to ensure that high standards are met in the production of regulated product. A representative for the Cannabis Canada Association, Colette Rivet, pointed out:

Licensed producers are eager to work in collaboration and compliance with the federal and provincial governments to quickly establish effective, low-risk distribution and retail models that are well regulated, highly secure, and tailored to the needs of each province.

Upon the coming into force of the bill, adult Canadians would have access to a range of quality controlled products, including dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, and cannabis oil, which could be consumed in a number of different ways. In jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis, these products constitute the largest part of cannabis products sold on the market.

Our government also recognizes the need to permit the legal sale of cannabis edible products and cannabis concentrates as part of the federal framework as soon as possible. While it would be irresponsible to further delay the implementation of the framework to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis, it would be equally irresponsible to move in a rush when it comes to regulating edible cannabis products and concentrates. Experience in other jurisdictions, such as Colorado, as well as expert testimonies heard during the hearings of the committee, have underlined the unique health and safety challenges and risks associated with these products. Under this proposed timeline, the government would not have to rush to put these novel cannabis products on the market at the expense of public health and safety.

As I mentioned earlier, the existing system is a failure. It is a failure at keeping cannabis away from Canadian youth. It is a failure to Canadians who have faced criminal sanctions for something as simple as possessing a joint. It is a failure to health professionals who are prevented from having honest conversations with patients who hide their cannabis use because of its criminalization. It is a failure to Canadians who face the risk of purchasing cannabis on the black market.

The time has come for Canada to adopt a new approach. The time has come to bring cannabis use out of the black market and into a safe and regulated market that will protect Canadians and keep cannabis out of the hands of youth. I am proud of the work of the Standing Committee on Health in this matter, proud of the work of the department, and proud to stand as a member of this government in seeing that cannabis is safe and legally regulated in Canada.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I listened to what he said, and here is what I would like to know. How long has marijuana legalization been part of the Liberal Party of Canada's political agenda?

What group of people influenced the party to adopt the position we are debating in the House today?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

Obviously, we live in a democracy that has political parties. Our government takes the health and well-being of Canadians very seriously. This is something we in the Liberal Party have been talking about for years. Members of our party who are very well informed about this issue have made it clear that the current system has resulted in Canadian youth having one of the highest cannabis consumption levels in the world.

It is clear that our predecessors' approach is not working. It is time to introduce a new system. That is exactly what our government set out to do, and that is what we will do to protect Canadians.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I note the member sits on the committee with my colleague, our health critic, and so he is well aware of the fact that our party has tried to get the Liberal government to address the issue of pardons and that a bill has been drafted that would not allow for expedited pardons for the tens of thousands of youth who are going to have a criminal record despite the fact this is going to be legalized.

The hon. member said that he had frank discussions with officials in Edmonton and Alberta. I am wondering if he is aware of the letter that went from the president of the treasury board in Alberta to the federal Minister of Finance remonstrating that the provinces are only going to be given 50% of the revenue of the tax on cannabis despite the fact that they have to cover enforcement, road safety, justice, health and education, as do the municipalities? Is he going to support Alberta's needs, or is he going to stand with his own government?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is clear we have work to do with the provinces and cities to make sure we get this right. It has been clear in our conversations with the provinces and cities that we want to do this in a timely manner to protect the lives of Canadians. Our job as a federal government is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. This is not a jurisdictional issue, this is an issue of safety. This is an issue of taking cannabis out of the hands of criminal gangs. This is taking money out of criminal gangs and making sure it is being used for providing health and safety for Canadians, getting Canadians who are addicted to substances off those substances, and making sure there is a shared revenue arrangement between provinces and territories so we can manage all that will come from helping Canadians to be safer.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:15 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, my colleague made a number of excellent points. One of the things I would like to emphasize and get my colleague to further comment on is the sense of commitment from this government to address a very important social issue that was brought in as an election platform issue, which I would suggest ultimately shows how important it is that we move forward on it.

What does my colleague have to say in terms of the benefits of moving forward? It has now been two years, it was an election platform, and this is something that is going to deal with things like crime on the streets and discouraging young people from getting and using cannabis, given that we already have the highest consumption in terms of the western world among our youth. Can the member add his thoughts on that?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have heard Edmontonians on the doorsteps ask me to get this done, because they see that the current legislative framework against cannabis makes it a gateway drug into the use of harder substances. They simply do not want to have a criminal record for having access to cannabis. We have done broad consultations within our own party, and the Standing Committee on Health and the Standing Committee on Justice have heard testimony on this fact.

In working with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada on this, it is clear that we are looking at the same kind of transformation in our era that happened with anti-gambling units in every city in every province in this country in the seventies and eighties. When the government stepped into an area that was formerly governed by criminal gangs, the gangs disappeared, and that is exactly what we are looking to do when it comes to legal cannabis.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand in this House today to speak in opposition to Bill C-45, the Liberal government's bill to legalize marijuana. I say I am pleased to speak to it because this is perhaps one of the most controversial bills that the current government has brought forward; very seldom have we seen new drugs being legalized in this country. I am pleased to speak to it because my constituents have spoken to me about it, but also because there are very few members in this House who will have an opportunity any longer to speak to this, because earlier today the government moved time allocation. The Liberals moved closure so they could rush this legislation through. Many different groups are telling them to slow down, and they went in the opposite direction and decided to rush it. That is what the government is trying to do. It is trying to bring forward full legalization of marijuana.

With full legalization, the Liberals know the fears. They know the concerns around rushing. They know the adverse effects it would have on children, and they know that others who are most susceptible to the dangers of marijuana would now have greater access to it. This bill is not about decriminalization. The Liberal government is not proceeding slowly on the legalization of marijuana. It is not proceeding carefully on this file. The government has been warned by many groups that it is moving too fast and it should not.

We are debating the release of a narcotic on the people of Canada. This past week, we have seen that the provincial government in Quebec unveiled legislation that would severely curtail what the Liberals in Ottawa have planned for the entire country of Canada. On the other hand, we have seen the NDP provincial government in Alberta unveil the most liberalized of all provincial pot legislation that provinces have brought on; the NDP in Alberta has gone even further. Again I will repeat that by far the majority of constituents who have emailed, phoned, and stopped into my office to talk to me from Battle River—Crowfoot are opposed to the full legalization of marijuana.

That being said, many of my constituents are not opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana. That is, many of them believe that some young individuals who have been caught with a joint or with one marijuana cigarette should perhaps not be given a criminal record for life. However, that does not mean that we have to put the entire population of our country at risk by giving the go-ahead to our Canadian society, and that is what the Liberal plan is.

Everyone knows that marijuana can be a powerful intoxicant. It impairs judgment. It impairs a person who drives a vehicle or operates a tractor or any other type of equipment. We know, according to Perrin Beatty and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, that it would have an adverse effect on productivity in the workplace; it would be diminished, not enhanced. Innocent people would be hurt, and some would be killed. This is the record of the states and areas that have legalized marijuana.

The Canadian Medical Association says that our youngest Canadians are going to be placed at risk because their mental capacity and their brains are still developing until after the age of 25. After the legislation, moving forward, there would be marijuana available to the youngest children in homes across Canada. Parents, perhaps even grandparents, could buy marijuana and have it at home. Again, it would become more accessible for young children. Members can bet their boots that young Timmy and Jane are going to do everything they can to get hold of “one of those marijuanas” and try it. They will be determined, just as children are. We have seen it with alcohol and with tobacco. They will try it.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

One member across the aisle is chuckling and saying they are trying it right now. This legislation would even allow them the opportunity to have it legally in their home, and we know many more will try it. Maybe he will laugh at that as well.

They do it now, they will do it then, and they will do it even more; the member is right. They may get hurt if they manage to get greater access to it. I really believe that the Liberals have not thought out the long-term consequences of what they are doing. Many constituents have written me with concerns about these very types of scenarios.

The Liberals speaking in this debate continue to say our current marijuana laws are not working. Indeed, that is what the member just hollered across the hallway: “They are trying it now”. My constituents say that, if they are doing it now, Bill C-45 is not an answer to anything. How can police determine what marijuana has been purchased legally and what marijuana has been obtained from criminal organizations, the dealers? They cannot. The Liberals are not helping our police with that question and many more.

Our border guards will also face a major dilemma. We have already heard about the lineups at border crossings. We have also heard that patrol dogs at Canada's border crossings can detect marijuana. Many vehicles will be held up in long lines for many hours as our border agents try to find out what the particular vehicle has in it that the dog is reacting to. Sometimes the agents will be satisfied that the vehicle merely had an occupant who had smoked marijuana a day or two before. The agents will find out that the driver of the vehicle may not be intoxicated and there are no drugs or marijuana in the vehicle now, but they may find that out after an hour of searching. It has taken a long time for the border agents to do their job.

It will not be the Canadians' fault. They are trying to comply. It will not be the border agents' fault. It will not be the dogs' fault. It will be the Liberals' fault. It will be the Liberals who have to deal with the long lineups, and already we have lineups. The delays will be longer and longer. Trade between Canada and the United States, our largest customer, will be at risk and will slow down. The border will become thicker.

Knowing the health risks, are we not trying to discourage Canadians from smoking tobacco? The answer is yes. We see health agencies and government agencies continuously trying to do it, so why now would the Liberals try to allow Canadians to smoke marijuana? We know baked goods are not included in the bill. Goods baked with marijuana, such as cookies, brownies, and candies, all pose a major concern to Canadians, but they will not be allowed. There will be people who decide to bake with marijuana, if they have access to it, and people may consume it without even being aware.

The Canadian Medical Association has said that cannabis has a significant impact on mental development. The Canadian Paediatric Society considers that young people using marijuana up to age 25 are jeopardizing their mental health, yet the government rushes through.

Bill C-45 proposes to regulate and legalize the production, possession, and distribution of marijuana across Canada. The Liberals want to impose it by July 1, 2018. Canada Day will be the celebratory day for the Liberal Party, as then it would be legal. Stakeholders across this country are saying, “Please do not rush this legislation”. The Liberals will not allow another six months or any extra time. That is their deadline. They have moved closure today.

Clauses 8 and 9 of the legislation state that an individual can possess or distribute four cannabis plants that are not budding or flowering. Children in the household would have access to marijuana.

Bill C-45 states the quantity of marijuana that children may legally possess. Paragraph 8(1)(c) says that children under the age of 18 are prohibited from possessing the equivalent of five grams of marijuana or more. A child under the age of 18 can use or distribute marijuana as long as he or she has less than five grams.

I have already heard from families with children who have been using marijuana and now have developed schizophrenia. They are concerned about this. They believe it triggers something that causes the disease.

I see that my time is up. Again, I would caution the government. It is moving too fast and does not know the ramifications. It has not studied where it has taken effect in the States, and there are problems.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about cannabis as an intoxicant, and he is correct. He said it impairs, and he is right about that. He said it has potentially adverse impacts. He is right about that. He also said that innocent people will be killed, and that is his rationale for wanting to continue with prohibition. Under that criterion, the same would hold true for alcohol, which the World Health Organization says is responsible for 6% of all deaths worldwide.

The hon. member can go to his local liquor store and legally purchase enough alcohol to kill himself or a family member or a kid who can get into the liquor cabinet. Why is there one set of rules for alcohol and another set of rules for cannabis, when cannabis is not a more dangerous drug than alcohol?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully disagree with the member that cannabis is no different than alcohol. That would assume that second-hand smoke is no problem at all. If someone is having a drink at home, an innocent child, a bystander who is just sitting around, is not inhaling or taking in any alcohol fumes.

Let me defer to the “Washington State Marijuana Impact Report”. This report lays out very clearly the dangers of marijuana use. They saw a spike in deaths on highways because of it.

Our police associations and chief of police associations in Canada are opposing this bill. The government is moving too quickly. The Liberals have heard the voices of those security administrators, police officers, and others, but it seems they have turned a deaf ear to them.

We know that deaths on highways will increase. We know that we do not have a proper way of telling the level of intoxication of a person smoking a joint of marijuana, unlike what we have with alcohol. At best, what the government is saying is that a police officer will have the ability to assess whether someone is high on marijuana. I wonder how that will hold up in court. How will that judgment call hold up in court?

The Liberals are chuckling away, as if it does not really matter.

These are the questions we need answered. Again, the Liberals are moving closure. They say they will push the bill through regardless. That is a shame. We talk about mental brain development in youth, safety on the highways, and safety in the workplace.

We are going into a free trade agreement now where the big problem Canada has is productivity and competitiveness with other countries, yet we are bringing in something that will lower our productivity and put us in an unfair place to attract business.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:35 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, I hear Conservative after Conservative try to give the impression that the legislation is going to pass, and all these Canadians will be smoking cannabis. I have news for the Conservative Party: they are actually smoking cannabis today. We have the highest participation of youth smoking marijuana in the western world. This legislation is a step forward.

The Conservative members say that this government is moving too quickly. If it was 20 years from now, they would still be saying that we are moving too quickly. We have seen that demonstrated in speech after speech by members of the former government, which decided to take no action on this important social issue.

Why does the Conservative Party not recognize the reality of the situation we have and see the benefits of fighting criminals by taking away the hundreds of millions of dollars the criminals get every year from the illegal sale of cannabis? Why do the Conservatives not want to deal with the issue of our youth consuming cannabis today?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned about youth using cannabis today. Again, the Liberal answer is that there are people using this evil already. This is changing the definition of what is wrong or what is evil. They are saying to let them make it right, then all these problems will go away.

The member asked whether the Conservatives in 20 years will say we should legalize it. We will not if the proof is that it is not safe for our youth. We will not legalize it if we do not have a way on the highway of determining whether someone is intoxicated, because we believe quite firmly in the protection of society as our guiding principle. If someone on the highway is not protected, because someone else is inebriated, and the police cannot make that judgment call, then we should hold off.

The Liberal answer to all is, “Rush ahead, let us do it now, and worry about everything else later”. That will get us into a big mess.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-45, the proposed cannabis act as amended by the Standing Committee on Health. I support this legislation, in particular because Canada's historic approach to dealing with cannabis is simply not working. My remarks today will focus on why the status quo is failing Canadians, especially our youth.

Cannabis has been prohibited in Canada since the 1920s and is currently listed as a controlled substance in schedule II of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The prohibition of cannabis has not led to abstinence. As the Minister of Health stated at the Standing Committee on Health hearings on Bill C-45:

...cannabis has become the most commonly used illegal substance in Canada. Today 21% of our youth and 30% of our young adults use cannabis. Our youth have the highest prevalence of cannabis use when compared with peers in other developed countries.

This clearly shows that significant numbers of Canadians are using cannabis in the face of prohibition. One would conclude from these numbers that the prohibition approach is not impacting the consumption patterns for cannabis use.

In the face of such non-medical use of cannabis, what has been the impact of the prohibitionist approach? As heard by health committee members, the impacts of the existing approach have been, first of all, to sustain a cannabis industry run by organized crime; second, to jeopardize public health and public safety; and finally, to subject recreational users of small amounts of cannabis to unwarranted criminal liability.

The link between organized crime and the illicit cannabis market is well known. Cannabis is the most trafficked drug in the world. Organized crime groups are more than happy to supply the general public with cannabis.

The Standing Committee on Health heard from the public safety minister, who said:

Canada's non-medical cannabis industry is entirely criminal. The illegal cannabis trade in this country puts $7 billion annually, perhaps more, into the pockets of organized crime. Over half of Canadian organized crime groups are suspected or known to be involved in the cannabis market. Canadian law enforcement spends upwards of $2 billion every year trying to enforce what is currently an ineffective legal regime.

We know that organized crime groups pose a significant threat to public safety and negatively affect the daily lives of Canadians. These groups are tied to illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, prostitution, theft, and human trafficking, and have a violent and corrupting effect on the communities and cities where they operate.

The minister also noted:

With legalization and regulation, we can enable law enforcement resources to be used more effectively, and we can dramatically reduce the involvement of and the flow of money to organized crime.

The overall impact of organized crime groups in Canada extends beyond the obvious and immediate threat of these activities. Unseen impacts include greater costs for law enforcement and the justice and correctional systems, costs that are typically borne by all Canadians.

I would acknowledge that organized crime is not going to disappear from Canada by virtue of the passage of Bill C-45. Organized criminal activity in Canada is a multi-faceted problem that requires a broad-based, integrated response. That said, the current approach to cannabis has clearly been failing on many fronts for close to a century, and that continues to bolster the profits of such criminal organizations. Our government recognizes this and has acted.

Another impact of the failed prohibition approach to cannabis is on public health and public safety. During the Standing Committee on Health's study of Bill C-45, we heard from witnesses who emphasized the need to act now and end the current prohibition.

During its testimony, the Canadian Public Health Association stated:

The proposed legislation and eventual regulation is our best attempt to minimize those harms and protect the well-being of all Canadians.

I briefly noted earlier the threats to public safety posed by the existence of organized crime groups in our communities, but there are many more aspects of public health and public safety in the context of the illicit cannabis market. The existence of clandestine grow ops operating in communities across the country serves to damage properties and threaten the safety of our neighbourhoods. Such grow ops create risks due to mould, improper electrical installation and the associated fire hazards, unchecked use of pesticides and fertilizers, and break-ins and thefts, all of which result in dangers to neighbouring residences and first responders.

The current mechanism through which Canadians can access cannabis leaves much to be desired. The risk to cannabis consumers is heightened in the context of cannabis supply, which is unregulated and not subject to any quality control or packaging requirements clearly indicating the potency of the product. Currently, cannabis consumers do not know what they are getting, and there is no framework to promote the safety of the cannabis supply. Simply put, the cannabis being sold today is unregulated, untested, and often unsafe.

Dispensaries continue to operate illegally across Canada in defiance of our laws. The existence of clandestine grow ops highlights the need for a new approach, one that will ensure that adult Canadians who choose to consume cannabis will have access to a quality-controlled supply that is subject to national standards and contributes to minimizing the potential harms.

Finally, I would like to address the impact that the current prohibitionist approach has had on a significant number of our citizens, many of whom have been labelled as criminals because of their personal decision to consume cannabis. In 2016, there were nearly 55,000 cannabis-related offences reported to police. This is more than half of all police-reported drug offences. This resulted in approximately 23,000 cannabis-related charges being laid.

The criminal records that result from these charges are, in many cases, more than the individuals deserved for their actions. These individuals may often have difficulty finding employment and housing as a result, and may have been prevented from travelling outside Canada. Furthermore, the criminal justice system resources required to deal with many of these minor infractions inhibits the system from devoting resources to more serious matters.

To deal with criminal charges and records, the opposition would simply have us decriminalize cannabis. Let me be clear: decriminalization will not work. It will not achieve our objectives of taking cannabis out of the hands of our youth and the profits out of the hands of criminals.

Through Bill C-45, our government is proposing a better approach. With Bill C-45, our government has introduced legislation that would strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis. Bill C-45 would deter illegal activities in relation to cannabis through appropriate sanctions and enforcement measures. Bill C-45 aims to protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis, all the while ensuring that Canadian adults are able to legally possess, grow, and purchase limited amounts of cannabis across Canada.

Based on that, I would encourage all members to support Bill C-45 as amended.