Cannabis Act

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



Second reading (Senate), as of March 21, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-45.


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.


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.


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

March 1st, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
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Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair, and I want to thank the witnesses for coming to testify on Bill C-262. Your presence is highly appreciated.

I want to continue on that very question that my colleague, Cathy McLeod, posed. The question we need to ask ourselves in response to that question is, in what way will Bill C-45 affect aboriginal treaty rights? I see very few ways that Bill C-45 will affect aboriginal treaty rights.

You referred to additional measures that would be required to further the implementation of the UN declaration above and beyond Bill C-262. I certainly agree with that. The Prime Minister, on Valentine's Day, made a speech in the House of Commons to which I responded. One of the things he talked about was that necessity to have a major shift in the political culture of Ottawa towards indigenous peoples and their fundamental rights. Joe referred to a “transformative shift”, and I agree with those terms.

Bill C-262 refers to making sure the laws of Canada are consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Prime Minister referred to laws, policies, and operational practices. Article 4 of my bill refers only to laws. Would you suggest we now add or amend that article to include policies and operational practices?

March 1st, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

If you're committing to UNDRIP, you're committing to free, prior, and informed consent around laws of general application. We know that you're making the commitment to put it into the laws of Canada. That's very clear. I think we've agreed about what this bill does and what UNDRIP does. So how are you going to get free, prior, and informed consent for a law such as Bill C-45? We're not looking at our existing legal framework; we're looking at a new legal framework.

March 1st, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Certainly, from my perspective and from that of many of the first nations communities, there is a very clear interpretation of what consent means. I would suggest that perhaps Pam Palmater is right.

My next area is that this will apply to laws of general application, plus obviously there are significant areas in terms of natural resource development and land use.

In terms of laws of general application, I would take, perhaps, Bill C-45, which is the marijuana legislation. How would you get FPIC—free, prior, and informed consent? If we're going to put it into the law, how are we going to get free, prior, and informed consent?

Clearly, in my opinion, the marijuana legislation is going to affect first nations communities as per laws of general application. The minister has indicated that it applies to laws of general application.

As a department, how are you going to get free, prior, and informed consent for something like Bill C-45? Because you don't have that right now.

Senator Patterson was just in the north. They're very concerned. They said they had no consultation around Bill C-45. Perhaps you could talk about how you are going to get free, prior, and informed consent from Inuit, Métis, and the very diverse first nations across the country.

February 28th, 2018 / 5:15 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The purpose of this amendment is to restrict the advertising of vaping products, particularly to make sure they are not accessed by young people. This amendment would establish strengthened restrictions on the location of vaping product advertising to match the provisions restricting tobacco advertising in the Tobacco Act, and also, for that matter, the cannabis advertising in Bill C-45.

At present Bill S-5 contains few or no restrictions at all regarding the location of advertising. That means that such advertising could appear on television, on billboards, at movie theatres, on public transit buses and shelters used by children going to school, at ice rinks where minor hockey is played, and so on. Bill S-5's current vaping product advertising restrictions are weaker than those of every other developed country with similar legislation except the U.S. The provisions regarding the location of vaping product advertising are in fact so weak they resemble those in the 1964 tobacco industry voluntary advertising code in Canada.

I think it's incumbent upon us to tighten these up. I think we heard the minister say that she was very supportive. In fact, she wants us, I think, to tighten up the advertising restrictions on vaping. This one in particular states:

If the promotion is made using a means of telecommunication, the promoter must take reasonable steps to ensure that the promotion cannot be accessed by a young person.

So this one deals specifically with telecommunications. It's consistent with what I recently said, that we have to close every single door to make sure that nicotine cannot be marketed in any way to children. We should do everything possible to accomplish that. That's what this motion does for telecommunications.

February 28th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

I don't know that we want to spend too much time comparing this, because we really didn't have evidence before this committee about that. I think it's an interesting question that Mr. Lobb is asking, but I don't think we have the evidence.

I would point out a couple of things. Many of the provisions in the act before us I think are replicated in Bill C-45. I know that many of the sections on promotion and advertising and restricting lifestyle advertising, etc., are similar, if not identical. I have seen a fairly common approach to this legislation in seeking to keep these products out of the hands of children, to discourage the use of the products, and to not have lifestyle advertising.

One other additional factor I would mention is that despite my attempts to have edible cannabis products and concentrates legalized, we had a bit of a compromise on that and they will be legalized within one year of Bill C-45 becoming law. My point is that, once that happens, one difference between cannabis and tobacco is that I'm not sure there are any edible tobacco products, but there certainly are edible cannabis products.

I know that many people prefer edible cannabis products. One of the reasons why I wanted to see edibles and concentrates legalized quicker was for the very reason Mr. Van Loon just mentioned. The least safe method of ingesting cannabis is by smoking it, yet ironically that's what this government preferred to do first, whereas I know that a lot of cannabis users would prefer to ingest cannabis in edible or vaping form, which is less harmful. I do think that's one difference between the products.

February 28th, 2018 / 4:10 p.m.
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Director General, Tobacco Control Directorate, Department of Health

James Van Loon

That would be in Bill C-45. It says the cannabis products are not subject to these.

February 26th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.
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Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

I'll tell you why I ask.

I was in a dispensary in Vancouver last week—our break week—and this particular dispensary had a wide variety of concentrates. What I learned there was that for health reasons, well over 50% of the customers who come into that store prefer to vape or deliver the cannabis by a vaping tool, as opposed to smoking the raw flower.

Do you have any comment on the relative harm or preference? I know that concentrates won't be legal under Bill C-45, the cannabis act, for a year after the normal legislation passes, but does either of you, Dr. Strang or Dr. Selby, have any comment in terms of whether or not we should be trying to drive people to ingest their cannabis products through vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking?

February 14th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
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Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Correct. With respect to the issue of being able to vape marijuana, that would be considered a concentrated type of product. That would only be available a year after the coming into force of Bill C-45. It's very much like edibles. We recognize that when we've had conversations or testimony—we've heard testimony from our colleagues in Colorado—

February 14th, 2018 / 6:20 p.m.
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Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON


I'll go back to the minister. Did I understand you correctly? Did you say that in terms of the vaping of marijuana, that won't be allowed until one year after Bill C-45 is implemented?

February 14th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Thank you very much for being here. Welcome back to the health committee.

There's been a good discussion already about the balancing act that's here in Bill S-5. One one hand, we want to get our youth away from nicotine and away from tobacco. We don't want them to be enticed or brought in to become addicted to nicotine. For me, that is the number one priority. I've heard you say that as well. That is, to me, what must happen, and that's what Bill S-5 is continuing to further.

We have a second item, though, which is trying to move adults who have tobacco smoking habits onto a healthier way of consuming nicotine than smoking. Those are the competing agendas. Personally, I don't think the balance is there. I think you've mentioned a few times that you think it's there, so I was delighted to hear that you're entertaining an amendment on lifestyle. I think that's a very important one, so thank you for that.

My second point, though, is on location of advertising and location for vapour product advertising. I have a 13-year-old son. I don't want to be at my neighbourhood bus stop with him with a vaping advertisement on my local bus stop. I don't want to go to the movie theatre and try to explain what vaping is and why vaping is a product that's being advertised. I don't want to go to the local hockey rink and explain to him what vaping is and why it's done. Location is a critical issue. I believe that, with the way it's set up now, we're going to be exposing young Canadians to vape products when we don't have to.

The Canadian Cancer Society was very strong on this one. What they said about Bill S-5 was that the vaping restrictions are weaker than the Tobacco Act and Bill C-45 for cannabis, that the vaping product advertising restrictions are weaker than in almost every other developed country except for the United States, and—these are all location advertising—the provisions regarding the location of vaping advertising are so weak that they resemble those of the 1964 tobacco industry advertising.

I guess my question to you is this. Would you please consider an amendment—and I'd like to bring one forward—that also restricts the location of advertising for vaping? I think there are lots of ways to communicate to adults who are smokers that vaping is a better way to consume nicotine, other than putting it on hockey rink boards. Would you consider an amendment on location?

February 14th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

If I understand your question correctly, with respect to the possibility of being able to vape cannabis types of products down the road, that part of the legislation will not be allowed until the first year of the passing of Bill C-45. When it comes to vaping cannabis, that would be considered a form of concentrate.

February 14th, 2018 / 6:10 p.m.
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Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

I appreciate that you've talked to the Minister of National Revenue.

I'd like to switch gears now to vaping. The bill gives you the power to schedule and list certain types of products. You've said it's to protect children, and I don't disagree that we need to protect children. What I would say, first of all, is that marijuana is listed as being on there; however, it seems kind of interesting to me that you would say you have to be 18 to buy a vaping product, you can't buy marijuana-flavoured vaping products, yet you can go and buy—under the new regime that you proposed in Bill C-46 and Bill C-45—marijuana. Why have you listed marijuana as one of the flavours that cannot be sold?

February 13th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
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Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

If we implement Bill C-262, article 19 will create some requirements, just as introducing something like Bill C-45 will clearly impact every Canadian. Article 19 would apply, which would trigger the need for free, prior, and informed consent.

Would that be a reasonable assessment of this, that it would have a sort of domino effect?

February 12th, 2018 / 3:40 p.m.
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Satinder Chera President, Canadian Convenience Stores Association

Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. My name is Satinder Chera, and I am the president of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association.

Our association is proud to represent 27,000 small business owners across Canada who serve 10 million customers each and every day. As you will note from the materials in your kits, our channel provides employment opportunities for over 234,000 Canadians and collects over $22 billion in taxes for all levels of government. Our stores ensure that Canadians have access to necessities and basic groceries wherever they live, and a third of them serve rural and remote regions of the country. In our vast country it is our distributors who provide this critical link of getting those necessities to our stores, which is why I am joined by Anne Kothawala, who represents that part of our industry.

Our industry is much more than our contribution to the economy. We support local sports teams and charities. Last year we held our first ever national Convenience Store Day, during which politicians and community leaders worked a shift in our stores and helped us to raise over $80,000 for charity. Our channel is constantly changing and adapting. You can buy food-service items like samosas and healthier snack options such as energy bars. Twenty years ago newspapers were a significant part of our sales; today they are not.

Tobacco sales have also declined, just as the number of Canadians who smoke has declined. This is a good thing; however, those sales have moved to the illegal market. Across Ontario, one in every three cigarettes sold is illegal, and it's as high as 60% in some markets throughout the province. Please find more information regarding contraband in your kits.

Just so we are very clear, we're not here to defend the tobacco industry. After all, tobacco is a cause of serious diseases. That said, so long as Canadians choose to smoke this legal product, our retailers continue to represent the most responsible avenue for them to buy tobacco products. We are the most responsible safeguard to keep tobacco products out of the hands of children. It is in this context that we work with the tobacco companies, along with confectionery, snack, and beverage manufacturers, who are all non-voting members of our association.

My colleague and I are both parents. As any parent, we don't want our kids, or any kids, to get their hands on tobacco products. In fact, retailers play an important role in keeping these products out of the hands of youth to begin with through display bans and with identification checks through our We Expect ID program that is included in your kits. Convenience retailers are part of the solution to preventing kids from smoking, not in opposition to it.

We are here today to raise the concerns of our members about the impact that the proposed plain-packaging legislation will have on our stores. We fear that despite the intent of the legislation, efforts to reduce tobacco consumption will be wasted and, ultimately, worsened by this bill. We will also talk about the vaping side of Bill S-5, where we fully support the government's finally stepping in to regulate this promising development for consumer choice.

Our channel has proven to be the best at age testing when measured against the Beer Store or the government-owned LCBO in Ontario. According to data from Smoke-Free Ontario, public health units have conducted over 20,000 underage mystery shops, with a pass rate of 96% by convenience stores in Ontario.

Committee members may be asking why, if 75% of the package is already covered by warning labels, it would matter if the remaining 25% were covered too? There are three reasons.

First, as with any product, branded packaging gives consumers assurances of quality and reliability and helps them distinguish one product from another. Standardizing cigarette packaging will make it much more difficult to differentiate legal from non-legal products. Moreover, Bill S-5 allows for the standardization of the cigarettes themselves. Forcing legal products to look like their already-standardized illegal counterparts will only further encourage consumers to make their purchasing decisions on price alone. The cheapest products will always come from the black market, free from any tax or ID check.

Second, we already compete with an illicit market that is double the global average. With plain packaging, we can expect to see counterfeiting become a bigger problem than it already is.

Third, because of the black market, law-abiding convenience stores lose not only the tobacco sales, but also the purchases that go along with them—milk, bread, lottery tickets. Governments lose tax revenue, and no one is there to prevent children from buying illegal tobacco.

We know that committee members have heard a lot about the black market and contraband lately, having just studied Bill C-45. Many witnesses have remarked on the importance of addressing the black market when it comes to cannabis, and several have pointed to branding to visually separate these products and provide consumers basic information about them as well as a quality guarantee.

Our members cannot understand why, when the government is trying to curb black market cannabis, it chooses to proceed with plain packaging for tobacco, which will be a boon to the already thriving black market. If the shared problem between tobacco and cannabis is the black market, why are we treating these products so differently?

This is compounded by stories from retailers in other countries where they have adopted plain packaging. Our Australian retail counterparts have struggled with inventory control, staff training, and customer transactions without any of the intended benefits. Contraband rates increased by 20% in that country after plain packaging was introduced. More recently, the Australian and French governments have both stated that plain packaging did not have the desired impact on smoking rates. As you can imagine, our retailers and distributors hear these stories and are naturally questioning whether we should expect to see any different outcome for plain packaging if implemented here in Canada.

I'll now turn it over to my colleague to conclude our remarks.

February 12th, 2018 / 1:45 p.m.
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Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society

Rob Cunningham

Through a combination of Bill C-45 and this bill, it will not be possible to consume cannabis wherever smoking is banned in federal workplaces—banks, broadcasting, the RCMP, or the federal government.

Vaping devices can be used to consume cannabis and other substances, so that's a question if widespread advertising of these devices is to be allowed. It's much more open than in the cannabis act. The government should not intend to undermine the restrictions it has in the cannabis act.