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

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

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment enacts the Cannabis Act to provide legal access to cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution and sale.

The objectives of the Act are to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework. The Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.

The Act

(a) establishes criminal prohibitions such as the unlawful sale or distribution of cannabis, including its sale or distribution to young persons, and the unlawful possession, production, importation and exportation of cannabis;

(b) enables the Minister to authorize the possession, production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis, as well as to suspend, amend or revoke those authorizations when warranted;

(c) authorizes persons to possess, sell or distribute cannabis if they are authorized to sell cannabis under a provincial Act that contains certain legislative measures;

(d) prohibits any promotion, packaging and labelling of cannabis that could be appealing to young persons or encourage its consumption, while allowing consumers to have access to information with which they can make informed decisions about the consumption of cannabis;

(e) provides for inspection powers, the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties and the ability to commence proceedings for certain offences by means of a ticket;

(f) includes mechanisms to deal with seized cannabis and other property;

(g) authorizes the Minister to make orders in relation to matters such as product recalls, the provision of information, the conduct of tests or studies, and the taking of measures to prevent non-compliance with the Act;

(h) permits the establishment of a cannabis tracking system for the purposes of the enforcement and administration of the Act;

(i) authorizes the Minister to fix, by order, fees related to the administration of the Act; and

(j) authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting such matters as quality, testing, composition, packaging and labelling of cannabis, security clearances and the collection and disclosure of information in respect of cannabis as well as to make regulations exempting certain persons or classes of cannabis from the application of the Act.

This enactment also amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to, among other things, increase the maximum penalties for certain offences and to authorize the Minister to engage persons having technical or specialized knowledge to provide advice. It repeals item 1 of Schedule II and makes consequential amendments to that Act as the result of that repeal.

In addition, it repeals Part XII.‍1 of the Criminal Code, which deals with instruments and literature for illicit drug use, and makes consequential amendments to that Act.

It amends the Non-smokers’ Health Act to prohibit the smoking and vaping of cannabis in federally regulated places and conveyances.

Finally, it makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Nov. 27, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
Nov. 27, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (recommittal to a committee)
Nov. 21, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
Nov. 21, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (report stage amendment)
Nov. 21, 2017 Failed Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (report stage amendment)
Nov. 21, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
June 8, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
June 8, 2017 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (reasoned amendment)
June 6, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 25th, 2018 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to join the debate today on Bill C-330, introduced by the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

What does this bill purport to do? Bill C-330 would be making an amendment to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, specifically section 55. Section 55 of that act lists all the areas where the Governor in Council is able to make regulations for the purposes of carrying out the provisions of the act. What the bill would do is insert a new clause under paragraph 55(1)(g). Paragraph(55)(1)(g) allows the Governor in Council to make regulations “respecting the premises, processes or conditions for the production or sale of any controlled substance or any class thereof, and deeming such premises, processes or conditions to be or not to be suitable for the purposes of the regulations”.

The proposed paragraph 55(1)(g.1) that the member wants to insert through this bill would require persons or classes of persons who intend to produce or sell any controlled substances to obtain the written consent of the landlord, and it would prescribe the manner and form in which that consent is to be obtained and the conditions under which it must be renewed. That is what this bill is purporting to insert into the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

I have a few problems with this bill because I think it oversteps its bounds in a few areas, and I will walk the House through them.

I will start off with the Allard decision rendered by the Federal Court a few years ago, which was in response to the previous Conservative government's regulations that dealt with medical cannabis and the authorizations included therein. The new access to cannabis for medical purposes regulation was the Liberal government's response to the Federal Court of Canada's February 2016 decision. In that decision, the court found that the requirement for individuals to get their cannabis only from licensed producers, which was the regime for medicinal cannabis imposed by the previous Harper government, violated the liberty and security rights protected by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I feel this bill would be inserting another impediment to the constitutional and charter-protected rights of patients to access medicinal cannabis. If the federal government is going to insert itself, through this law, by basically mandating that written consent would have to be authorized by a landlord, the courts could reasonably see that as an impediment and a contradiction of the spirit of the ruling rendered by the Federal Court in 2016. That is my number one reason.

As I walk the House through this, I think the big problem is that this bill would very clearly insert itself into provincial jurisdiction. If we look at section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, specifically subsection 13, it is very clear that provincial jurisdiction over property and civil rights is there for all to see. Provincial jurisdiction over that area has been reaffirmed by the courts on numerous occasions, and I know provincial governments are very quick to assert their right in this particular area if they suspect any federal intrusion.

Property and civil rights can cover a whole range of issues, and I think that was the intent of the Fathers of Confederation. They wanted matters of a merely local or private nature, basically property and civil rights, to be included under provincial jurisdiction. Canada is a very big and very diverse country, and from British Columbia to Manitoba to Prince Edward Island we have various different local cultures. The provinces need to be authorized to make laws that fit the local cultures in each of those provinces. I feel that by trying to legislate how written consent has to be informed in the relationship between a tenant and a landlord, Bill C-330 would be very clearly inserting a federal power into an area defined under property and civil rights.

The very clearly written Allard decision by the Federal Court on a section 7 protected right for access to medical cannabis for patients who require it, and the fact this is very clearly an area of provincial jurisdiction are two clear reasons why I think the House should vote against this bill.

I would also like to talk a little about the federal criminal law power, because it is another thing we have to talk about with respect to this particular bill.

In previous rulings, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that a valid criminal law requires, first, a prohibition; second, a penalty; third, a criminal law purpose, such as peace, order, security, morality, and health. If I look at the aim of Bill C-330, I do not think it really matches the requirements of a federal criminal law power. If we look at the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, that is very much what it concerns. It tries to prohibit or to limit certain types of behaviour.

We know that the bill is being discussed in the context of medicinal cannabis, because recreational cannabis, as was rightly pointed out by the government side, will come under a new regime once Bill C-45 receives royal assent. However, I think that a federal bill that aims to become a statute but inserts itself into property and civil rights is not a valid exercise of the federal criminal law power. That is a third point that we have to be aware of when discussing the bill.

While I talk about this, let there be no illusion that I don't have sympathy for landlords who are going through this. I think every member of Parliament has had landlords approach them who have valid concerns about how their properties are being managed. I would say to them that, for most of the issues, the provincial governments will be responsible for regulating these kinds of contracts in their residential tenancy acts and so forth. I know that the Government of British Columbia has come forward with some proposals specifically with reference to when Bill C-45 is implemented. The member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo is quite right to be suspicious of Health Canada's inspection regime, because I do not think Health Canada has allocated enough resources or is carrying out enough inspections to ensure that licence holders are complying with the terms of their licences.

I have brought this very same issue to the attention of the Minister of Health. I wrote her a letter on behalf of constituents a few years ago, and I did get a response. I will read from that letter from the health minister, because I think we need to keep the pressure on the health minister to live up to her obligations. Part of her response reads:

The Department has taken measures to ensure that Canadians are well informed about the rules and their responsibilities to help them comply with the new regulations [the ACMPR]. We have also emphasized the need to comply with all relevant provincial, territorial and municipal laws, including local by-laws about zoning, electrical and fire safety, as well as all related inspection and remediation requirements. We have also outlined on our website precautions Canadians can take to reduce risks to their health and safety.

I will be following up with the Minister of Health, because I still think there are some very real gaps. Obviously, from the feedback I have heard from constituents, the actions of Health Canada thus far do need some improvement. I hope that the parliamentary secretary is listening to my concerns, because I will be following up on them.

I think it is a question of resources and commitment that we need to take up with the health minister. When we look at the minister's response, she has outlined “provincial, territorial and municipal laws”. She acknowledges that this is an area of provincial concern and jurisdiction; hence, lending more credence to the argument that Bill C-330 kind of falls outside the scope of what we are able to do.

I will conclude by saying that while I cannot support Bill C-330, I will respect the intent behind it. I know that the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo has identified a problem and is trying to take action to solve it. However, I just do not think that Bill C-330 is the answer. I think that we need to keep the pressure up on Health Canada and the Minister of Health to ensure that the inspection regime is running as well as it possibly can.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 25th, 2018 / 1:35 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 am very pleased today to rise to speak to Bill C-330, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This private member's bill proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow regulations to be made that would require written consent from landlords in the event that their tenants were producing or selling a controlled substance within leased space. If applicable, Bill C-330 would also establish a mandatory requirement for the Minister of Health to report back to Parliament on an annual basis to explain why such regulations had not been made.

As my colleagues know, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is a legal framework for the control of substances that can alter mental processes and that may produce harm to individuals or society when diverted to an illegal market. Under this act, it is illegal to conduct certain activities with respect to controlled substances or precursors, unless authorized by regulation or granted by an exemption.

If I may, I will take the opportunity to correct an issue of language. My colleague and friend across the aisle, in his remarks, referred frequently to a prescription for medical marijuana. I want to take the opportunity to clarify, if I may, that there is no such thing as a prescription for medical marijuana. It is, in fact, an authorization, which provides for an exemption under the current criminal prohibition, as directed by the courts in the Allard decision, and as incorporated into regulations under the new ACMPR regulations.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act includes broad authorities that enable the government to strictly regulate the production and sale of controlled substances.

I would like to articulate a number of the reasons the government is unable to support Bill C-330. When introducing the bill on December 14, the member for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo indicated that it sought to address concerns from landlords about tenants growing cannabis for medical purposes in leased premises. Bill C-330 could, in fact, have implications for a number of parties that are regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act who operate within leased facilities. This could include, for example, licensed producers of cannabis for medical purposes and licensed producers and dealers of other controlled substances.

If a licensed producer or dealer of a controlled substance is operating in a commercially rented facility, the lease agreement will typically include details on the specific activities that are taking place within the facility, making the landlord aware that controlled substances are being produced there. The landlord would, therefore, consent by way of approving the lease.

To obtain a federal licence to commercially produce cannabis for medical purposes in cases in which the applicant is not the owner of the site, an application must be accompanied by a declaration by the owner of the site consenting to its use for the proposed activity, and like federally licensed producers and dealers of controlled substances, including licensed producers of cannabis for medical purposes, individuals authorized to produce cannabis for their own medical use are subject to regulations under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Cannabis for medical purposes is regulated under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.

These regulations aim to provide reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes for Canadians who have received an authorization from their health care practitioners. Under these regulations, Canadians can legally cultivate a determined amount of cannabis for their own medical use or designate someone to produce it for them. These regulations contain landlord consent requirements applicable to personal and designated production if the production site is not the ordinary place of residence of the applicant or the designated producer, and the site is not owned by them.

Finally, as members of this House also know, Bill C-45, the cannabis act, is currently before the other place. This act would create a strict framework to control and regulate the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis using a public health approach, in which public health and public safety objectives would be at the forefront. Should it receive royal assent, cannabis would no longer be regulated under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Regulations with respect to cannabis, for both medical and non-medical purposes, would be enacted under the cannabis act, and this would include the landlord consent requirements that currently apply to cannabis for medical purposes, about which I have previously spoken.

Under this new legal framework, adults would be permitted to legally possess and purchase limited amounts of cannabis through a government-licensed retailer. Subject to applicable provincial, territorial, and municipal rules, adults may also be allowed to cultivate up to four plants at their place of residence.

Allowing for the cultivation of a small number of cannabis plants at home supports the government's objective to displace the illicit market. It is a reasonable way to allow adults to cultivate cannabis for their own personal use, while prohibiting any commercialization and sale of that which is produced for personal use and which prohibits large-scale grow ops, which will attract the criminal sanctions contained within that bill.

The approach our government is taking with respect to home cultivation is consistent with the advice we received from the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation and with the approach that has been taken by most jurisdictions in the United States that have legalized and regulated cannabis for non-medical purposes.

Provinces and territories have the authority and can assess the need for additional restrictions within their jurisdictions, and they will be responsible for enforcing those rules. In fact, some provinces have already chosen to incorporate such restrictions in their proposed legislation, and I will give some examples.

New Brunswick would require a locked enclosure around outdoor cultivation and a separate locked space for any indoor cultivation.

Alberta has proposed that all cultivation will take place only indoors and it will allow landlords and strata councils to restrict cannabis cultivation.

Nova Scotia has recently proposed to provide landlords with the ability to ban the smoking and growing of cannabis within rental units.

These are just a few examples of how provincial legislation would be used and relied upon to establish rules that are tailored to each province.

Additionally, each municipality has the ability, through its zoning and bylaw jurisdictions, to enact additional regulations to control and to ensure this conduct is done in a way which is safe and socially responsible.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsor of the bill for providing us with an opportunity to debate this important matter.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActPrivate Members' Business

May 25th, 2018 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult sometimes to pick up a speech where one left off several weeks ago. However, I am going to do my best to do so and will begin by commenting on the first hour of debate on this bill.

I am not sure why or how this came about, but many speakers tried to confuse the intent of this bill with those of Bill C-45 or Bill C-46, though it has nothing to do with them. Nothing in this bill has to do with arguments for or against the legalization or decriminalization of recreational marijuana. This bill has absolutely nothing to do with the discussions on those bills dealing with those questions. This bill is completely unrelated. This bill deals with the existing regime for medical marijuana, and medical marijuana only.

I hope that today, as we resume debate on this bill, we will confine discussion and debate to the subject matter of the bill, which is the home cultivation of medical marijuana that has been prescribed. Under the current regime for medical marijuana, a patient with a prescription is permitted to cultivate marijuana in their home. This bill does not reject their doing so or argue that a person should not be able to do that with a prescription.

What this bill addresses is the issue of landlord consent. This is important because it is well known that home cultivation of marijuana can damage property and create health hazards. It varies from province to province.

In British Columbia, for example, a person might be permitted to grow marijuana to fill three prescriptions in their home, two for the residents of a home, plus a prescription for a non-resident of a property. If a person combines three prescriptions, and if these are particularly heavy dose prescriptions of up to, and in excess sometimes, of 10 grams a day, the number of plants required to fill such large prescriptions if combined are quite numerous, in some cases perhaps more than 100 plants.

Putting 100 plants in one home raises a number of health considerations. I know that many members have a background or history in local government and know that from their time, as municipal government representatives, this is something that had to be dealt with when when there was widespread illegal home cultivation. The grow ops that sprung up as a result presented an enormous challenge to municipalities, law enforcement, and health authorities in dealing with the health consequences of growing too much organic matter in an enclosed indoor space. Therefore, mould and toxins are important considerations.

If a person owns their own home and wishes to grow 100 plants, and has the legal prescriptions to do so, no problem. If a person is a tenant and their landlord permits them to do so, no problem. However, if a person's landlord is not even aware of such cultivation in a home and it results in the destruction of the property, this is a tremendous problem for landlords, and a tremendous disincentive for either the development of, or investment in, rental property. If a prospective landlord has to exist in a climate in which they do not know if a tenant can destroy their property through excessive cultivation, they may choose not to even invest in that property.

We know this is a tremendous issue that all municipal and law enforcement people have been aware of, but it is also an issue in the real estate and mortgage industries. I spent my career, before running in the last election, in the mortgage business. In the mortgage business, once a property has been flagged as having been used for the cultivation of marijuana, that property is stigmatized to the point that it is unmortgageable and unmarketable.

Many lending institutions generally say that they would never lend on a property that had been used to cultivate marijuana. If there was a certificate of remediation, they might say that under a certain set of other strong criteria, they might perhaps lend on the property, but my experience over 20 years as a mortgage broker is that no lender will ever accept a mortgage application on a property formerly used for the cultivation of marijuana. They will find a way to kill it. They will render the property unmarketable and unmortgageable, and perhaps uninsurable.

MarijuanaStatements By Members

May 25th, 2018 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government ignored opposition warnings, good science, and common sense when it put together Bill C-45, its marijuana legalization bill.

This legislation will do nothing to keep pot out of the hands of kids or eliminate the marijuana black market. In fact, provisions wrapped into the bill would allow children from 12 to 17 years of age to possess up to five grams of marijuana for personal use, making it easier than ever for kids to score pot.

Just this week, Durham Regional Police reported that marijuana-laced cookies and gummies had found their way into Oshawa's elementary schools on two separate occasions. As many as eight kids were reportedly affected. Some of these kids were as young as 11 years old.

Legalization will only make marijuana more accessible to kids, and troubling incidents like the one in Oshawa will become the norm in our schools.

I urge the Liberal government to listen to indigenous groups, municipalities, police, and doctors and delay this implementation until we can ensure our students can be protected.

MarijuanaOral Questions

May 10th, 2018 / 3:05 p.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the current approach to cannabis is not working. It allows criminals to profit and it has not managed to keep cannabis out of the hands of our children.

We deeply respect the work that the Senate is doing and we look forward to getting their report. Our government is confident that Bill C-45 will pass later this year. Our government will continue to work with its partners to ensure a responsible transition to a legal cannabis market.

May 10th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

We're anxious to see both pieces of legislation proceed. Bill C-45 corrects a problem that has existed for almost 100 years. The law with respect to cannabis in Canada has been long-standing, and for those 100 years it has been an abject failure. It has not kept marijuana out of the hands of our kids, and it has not kept the proceeds out of the hands of organized crime. Obviously, the existing law is not working. We need to change the approach. Bill C-45 changes the approach.

Bill C-46 deals with the larger and different problem of all forms of impaired driving, whether it's drug-impaired or alcohol-impaired, creating new offences, new technologies, and new techniques to keep our roads safer, and it needs to be passed promptly, too.

May 10th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

That is not what you said. When you tabled Bill C-45 in the House last year, you said that Bill C-45 and C-46 were twins that they went together and could not be separated.

Today, because of the legislative process, Bill C-46 is delayed. However, the Prime Minister absolutely wants to legalize cannabis. In fact, I don't know why this is so urgent. So, you accept that Bill C-46 is not ready but that C-45 will come into effect.

May 10th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Paul-Hus, the problem with impaired driving, whether it's drug-impaired of alcohol-impaired, exists today. It's already here. That's why, in Bill C-46, we have created new offences. We have provided for new funding and new technology to better deal with all forms of impaired driving, whether it's cannabis or anything else. The sooner Parliament can deal with Bill C-46, the better. It's not contingent on Bill C-45, because the problem already exists.

May 10th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

That's perfect. So with regard to public security, this issue has generated costs of $173 million.

I would also like to talk about the problems related to Bill C-45 and to Bill C-46, which concerns impaired driving.

Yesterday, your colleague Mr. Blair said that Bill C-45 could come into effect even if Bill C-46 is not ready.

As Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, do you accept that marijuana will become legal while there will be no law governing drivers in this regard?

The RCMP Commissioner is with us today. Mr. Blair can say one thing but as Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, do you agree with the fact that regardless of whether Bill C-46 is ready or not, marijuana will be legalized?

May 10th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Davies, the dialogue between Canada and the United States has been ongoing on many issues, but specifically on this issue, for quite some time. We have wanted to make sure that the Department of Homeland Security and all the agencies that function under DHS are well aware in great detail of how the Canadian law will change and why that change is appropriate. The flow of information has been going back and forth very effectively.

One thing we point out to the United States is that cannabis crossing the international boundary in either direction is illegal today and will remain illegal after Bill C-45 is enacted. Nothing changes in that regard.

May 9th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
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Founder and Advisor, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana

Jonathan Zaid

Sure.

On the first question of prescription versus over-the-counter cannabis, Bill C-45 proposes that the medical cannabis system as it stands today, as described by Cannabis Canada and Hydropothecary, largely continue as is, moving into legalization. This will mean a medical cannabis system distinct from non-medical cannabis. Patients will still have to go to their health care provider. They will still have to go through that assessment to ensure that they are suitable for the use of medical cannabis and that there are no risks in doing so.

Then they will get their products shipped directly to their homes. This is a distinct medical cannabis program that largely operates in a way that I consider to be similar to that of an online pharmacy, where it's still a prescription-like document that's sent and used for medical purposes only. That will be totally distinct. This is what we're saying should be exempt from taxation. When it's used for medical purposes on the basis of a health care provider's authorization, it should be treated like every other medicine that is based on a doctor's authorization, which are all exempt from tax.

On the second question, I believe that you're referencing the CCIC conference. I was a speaker there. I attended this, as well.

CFAMM has been advocating for a distinct medical cannabis system for the reasons we highlighted today. Patients have unique needs. It's irresponsible, I think, to suggest that patients, some of whom have serious medical conditions, like MS and cancer, go and simply self-medicate through a recreational cannabis store. That makes no sense. That's not a safe way for someone to integrate cannabis into their health plan, especially when they have other medications they're using.

I would also note that over 11,000 or 12,000 Canadian physicians have currently authorized cannabis for medical purposes. The number keeps going up. I haven't seen the latest market data, for the past month, but this is a number that's growing month over month significantly.

I hear the CMA's concerns. That said, patients are very clear. The courts have been very clear. And most other associations that represent different health authorities, such as nurses and pharmacists, have recommended a distinct medical cannabis system.

May 9th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
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Allan Rewak Executive Director, Cannabis Canada

Good afternoon.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. As mentioned, my name is Allan Rewak, and I am the executive director of Cannabis Canada, the national trade association for licensed producers of medical cannabis under the ACMPR.

Our group has recently undergone a very profound and positive transition. At our recent annual general meeting just three weeks ago, the members of the Cannabis Canada Association, the Canadian Medical Cannabis Council, and Canopy Growth Corporation agreed to unify to create one central stakeholder voice for our sector, which we will operate on a go-forward basis as the Cannabis Canada Council, or C3.

I'm very pleased to say that our strengthened and large organization can now confidently say that we represent the vast majority of licensed producers in this country, including the large-scale major producers, mid-scale producers, and emerging licensed producers. We believe this common and inclusive framework will be a significant asset to policy-makers such as you as you look towards the further regulation and design of our growing industry.

We are collectively committed to investing heavily in Canada and building up great jobs in the long term in the communities we operate in. This is something that we anticipate will escalate significantly once Bill C-45 comes into force and is fully implemented.

As part of this commitment to building up Canada, we are not opposed to the application of tax on adult consumer use of cannabis, despite the challenges a new taxation regime imposes on a nascent regime. We're proud to play our part.

That being said, our members, both large and small, are deeply concerned with the application of excise tax to medical cannabis as a sin tax. While we recognize and appreciate the very positive efforts of the federal government in seeking to exclude high-CBD, low-THC products from taxation, we believe the ratios offered in this budget are overly prescriptive and will work against our common interest of providing fair access to medicine for Canadians.

Instead, considering the fiscal risk of harm for legitimate medical patients—some of whom are here today—that the proposed taxation regime would entail, we propose that we instead adopt a collaborative and iterative approach to this issue. Specifically, C3 would recommend that all taxation on medical cannabis be deferred for a minimum of one year.

During that time, we would further propose that this committee recommend that Health Canada and aligned ministries create a working group to study appropriate age-gating and other gating mechanisms to the medical cannabis system to ensure that this system is free of abuse and to develop a more comprehensive evidence-based matrix of cannabis as treatment for specific medical disorders. We hope this new matrix will confidently and reasonably define a legitimate health care regime that ultimately will be tax free, just like other medicines.

We believe this approach will give us the information we need to get the medical system right while preserving and respecting the needs of medical patients.

In closing, I'd like to thank the committee again for the opportunity to be here. I'd be pleased to answer questions within a scope of information when available.

May 9th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
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Annie MacEachern As an Individual

Thank you.

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and committee members. Thank you very much for having me here today to discuss the amendments to the excise tax, specifically around medical cannabis. I am here today because I fear for my rights as a medical cannabis patient and for all patients who choose cannabis.

I have been actively involved in following the progress of Bill C-45 and Bill C-46 to ensure that the rights of medical cannabis patients aren't being forgotten. I have watched hours of committee meetings on ParlVu and CPAC. I have hosted public discussions in Prince Edward Island. I have written letters to members of Parliament and senators, and I've met with local MLAs, MPs, and senators and, of course, patients. Despite my best efforts I am still here fighting for safe and fair access to a treatment that I have been prescribed by my doctor.

My goal in speaking with you today is to fill in some of the gaps in the general understanding of medical cannabis, to inform you of the obstacles medical cannabis patients face, and of how the additional excise tax will only further its inaccessibility.

The myth that non-medical users will seek a licence to access medical cannabis to save one dollar a gram is simply false. The ACMPR program is not a more convenient or a less expensive way to access cannabis, especially when retail stores will be a legal option. Patients are required to order their prescribed cannabis online, as it is not available in storefronts. The shipping costs vary by licensed producers, but they range from $10 to $20 per shipment. Logically, it would make sense for patients to fill their prescription in one order to avoid multiple shipping costs per month, but many patients are living on one income or with financial assistance and have families to support.

According to CFAMM, one in five patients can't afford to fill their full prescription, let alone pay all of their prescription in one pay cycle. These statistics align with the anecdotal research that I have done through my advocacy work with patients across Canada. I'd like to take a moment to break down the costs associated with medical cannabis for you. A gram of cannabis can vary from $4 a gram to $17 a gram when it comes in dry herb form. A typical prescription is three grams a day. On average, patients pay $10 a gram.

Many people forget that patients then have to consume their cannabis. Many doctors recommend that patients use vaporizers to eliminate certain health risks associated with combustion. A quality vaporizer will cost a patient no less than $75. The only alternative to inhaling cannabis currently available to patients is sublingual oils, which are, on average, $100 per bottle.

Simply put, healthier options for medical cannabis patients are cost prohibitive. Medical cannabis is the only prescribed medicine subject to HST and GST. In addition to that, it is not covered by the generic drug plan, and only one insurance provider will be offering limited coverage for specific diagnoses like cancer, HIV, and rheumatoid arthritis. This is a great start, but it's not enough.

With the opioid epidemic rife in our country I would be remiss not to mention the recent studies that have shown a decrease in opioid prescriptions in regions that have legalized non-medical cannabis. This in turn has resulted in fewer deaths from opioid overdose.

I would like to quickly share a story with you. A friend of mine, a young woman in her 30s, struggled with an addiction to opioids and benzos for 10 years of her life. She was diagnosed with MS two years ago. With the help of cannabis she has been able to stay away from opioids, despite living every day in chronic pain. At a recent visit to the hospital for day surgery, she was offered opioids for the pain. She declined, explaining her past to the nurses. Not everyone in that situation would have been strong enough to say no.

I believe that the current costs of medical cannabis and the costs associated with it, in addition to the excise tax, will not only drive medical cannabis patients out of the ACMPR program, but also drive them back to the black market, or potentially to opioids.

Despite the benefits of purchasing cannabis from a medical producer, cost is the bottom line for many Canadians. Rather than taxing medical patients, I urge the government to please explore a different approach to taxing recreational users. We should be supporting those who have made the choice to use cannabis as a treatment as much as the patients who choose to use pharmaceuticals to medicate.

Thank you very much for your time.

May 7th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

I would just make the point, in one sentence, that there is a schedule for implementation that has been very carefully negotiated with the provinces, and the federal government funding is in place to make it happen in a way that will support the implementation of both C-45 and C-46.

May 7th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Carrie, the Department of Public Safety has been working with their departmental counterparts across the country to allocate the funding we've set aside for the implementation of both C-45 and C-46, and that is $270 million and some spread over a number of years. That is to make the new technology available, to accomplish the training that is necessary for the new technology, and to implement—