Evidence of meeting #67 for Health in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was legal.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Lynda Balneaves  Registered Nurse and Medical and Non-Medical Cannabis Researcher, Canadian Nurses Association
Karey Shuhendler  Policy Advisor, Policy, Advocacy and Strategy, Canadian Nurses Association
Serge Melanson  Doctor, New Brunswick Medical Society
Robert Strang  Chief Medical Officer of Health, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness
Michael DeVillaer  Assistant Professor, Policy Analyst, McMaster University, As an Individual
Mark Kleiman  Professor of Public Policy, Marron Institute of Urban Management, New York University, As an Individual
Trina Fraser  Partner, Brazeau Seller LLP
Brenda Baxter  Director General, Workplace Directorate, Labour Program, Department of Employment and Social Development
Norm Keith  Partner, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
Clara Morin Dal Col  Minister of Health, Métis National Council
Isadore Day  Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario
Wenda Watteyne  Senior Policy Advisor, Métis National Council
David Hammond  Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual
Mike Hammoud  President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association
Melodie Tilson  Director of Policy, Non-Smokers' Rights Association
Pippa Beck  Senior Policy Analyst, Non-Smokers' Rights Association
Steven Hoffman  Professor, Faculty of Health, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, As an Individual
Beau Kilmer  Co-Director, RAND Drug Policy Research Center
Kirk Tousaw  Lawyer, Tousaw Law Corporation
Stephen Rolles  Senior Policy Analyst, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

5:10 p.m.

Director of Policy, Non-Smokers' Rights Association

Melodie Tilson

Absolutely.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

I see.

Mr. Hammoud.

5:10 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

I don't think any of us are really experts when it comes to retailing cannabis in this country right now, or how it will all go down.

I think one of the things that needs to be taken into account is what a package is going to look like for cannabis, and, let's be honest, how big the pack is going to be. I'm assuming it's not going to have 25 joints. I'm assuming it's not going to be similar to tobacco in that way. It's probably either going to be an oil or it's going to be some sort of a dried tobacco in a pouch, or something that's relatively small that they would call a dime on the road or whatever. These are other things that need to come into consideration when you're talking about warning labels, names of products, explaining what the product is, and trying to get it all to fit on what it is that you're trying to sell as the product.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Hammoud, you stated earlier that plain packaging is a race to the bottom in price. We've heard a lot of testimony that says that lower price basically drives the black market out of business, and that's one of our goals. It seems to me in that respect that this counters your argument against—

September 14th, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

But you've failed miserably on the tobacco side. If you look at where the cost of tobacco is today compared with what the cost of illicit tobacco is, you have one way up here and you have one way down there.

To go back on a question asked before, the people who have the most to lose by losing tobacco sales are the federal and provincial governments, who make the most money off the sale of tobacco, not us. I just want to clarify that.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Are you saying it won't decrease the price, the race to the bottom?

5:10 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

If the federal government does what they intend to do and their goal is to move people over from an illicit product to a legal product when it comes to cannabis, if they really stick to their guns and do what they do and sell it for around the same price as people can buy it for on the illicit market, it will probably work. But what you need to understand is that you have provincial governments that are starving and in need of revenue, that are probably going to do the same thing with cannabis that they've done with tobacco to find a way to generate revenue for their provinces, and they're probably going to slowly tax it to the point—

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

But these are considerations beyond packaging, right?

5:10 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

I understand, but you're talking about packaging and you're talking about moving someone over to a legal product, and you just said, to the lowest price—

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

I'm talking to your assertion that plain packaging would start a race to the bottom on price—

5:10 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

—which would encourage the black market. But according to our other testimony, if you start lowering the price enough it prices the black market out of business.

5:10 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

If you start lowering the price.... My perception of that is it's not the government that's lowering the price.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ron McKinnon Liberal Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

I'm not talking about who's lowering the price, but if the price gets lower it will price the black market out of business.

5:10 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

If the legal product gets lower. Is that what we're saying? Yes.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bill Casey

Thank you very much.

Ms. Gladu.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Thank you, Chair.

One thing I'm disappointed about is that we're only talking about packaging and labelling because promotion was another whole part of this equation. I'm going to risk putting you out of your comfort zones on packaging and talk a little bit about the restrictions.

We have restrictions on the entertainment industry that have sort of exempted them from what we're trying to do with everything else, which is to make sure we're not appealing to children and we're not glorifying smoking cannabis or using cannabis. I know there's always that argument about censorship versus what we allow, but do you have any opinions about the promotion within the entertainment industry?

I'll start with Ms. Beck.

5:10 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, Non-Smokers' Rights Association

Pippa Beck

I can't speak too intelligently about that industry, but I do know that in the act there are allowances for promotion, specifically in shops that would be off limits to minors by law. There could be information and promotions at the point of sale for adult consumers about the products, so there is greater leniency in that respect.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

All right.

5:10 p.m.

President, Atlantic Convenience Stores Association

Mike Hammoud

I agree with that, too. When it comes to promotion of the product, it should be very similar to the way they promote tobacco. If it's anything outside, it shouldn't be promoted.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Hammond.

5:10 p.m.

Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual

Dr. David Hammond

I think one of the reasons why I haven't spoken to some of the broader promotions is that I think it's generally fairly well constructed. As I read it, the act would restrict any types of sponsorship. In other words, a cannabis company can't pay to have their product in a movie or to have someone use it to sponsor a sporting or dramatic event. As I read the exemptions, it's saying that I as a scientist can represent cannabis products in certain ways, that it could be in a movie but it's not allowed to be paid for as a form of sponsorship.

If that reading is correct, then I think that's an appropriate balance.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Okay, excellent.

There was another good question that was raised about what size the packaging should be, which I think is really good because, especially when I saw the little promotions of the little slender ones and all that kind of thing, it does make a difference.

We know that the adult possession has been set at 30 grams. I don't know how much room that takes up, but do you have any opinions on the size of the packaging that should be allowed? I'll start with Mr. Hammond.

5:15 p.m.

Professor, University of Waterloo, School of Public Health and Health Systems, As an Individual

Dr. David Hammond

We're quite right that cigarettes are very uniform in terms of how they're sold, but if we broaden the market a little bit to include smokeless tobacco and other nicotine products, we see the sort of variability that you might see in the cannabis market.

With respect to the 30-gram amount, I think manufacturers will shape and size their packages accordingly. I think that you're just trying to avoid any structural size-related messaging that would contravene what's in the act.

One of the reasons for those standardized packages with cigarettes is that we have what are called super slim and slim cigarettes that promote the belief that smoking helps you stay thin, which is a very potent predictor of youth smoking. It was to get rid of all the novelty packaging where they really don't look like a cigarette pack and they look like something else.

I think there will be more variability in the cannabis market. I think there is room for that variability without it being a problem.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Are there other opinions?