Mr. Speaker, we all knew the day would come when the bill would be reintroduced in the House, the bill which was introduced in the previous Parliament. I believe it was Bill C-10 at that time. We hoped that if it was reintroduced, it would have the changes that are so necessary to make it a worthy bill.
Obviously, after looking at this particular legislation, it has not been done. The government members did not listen to the suggestions that came from victims groups, police agencies, and other representations made to the committee last session. We are ending up with the same thing we had in the past.
This party is really not interested in seeing people getting criminal records. We are not interested in destroying kids' lives because of mistakes they make. At the same time, I am personally not interested in providing an opportunity that could lead down the slippery slope and cause a great deal of grief for a great number of people.
I base these comments on the experiences I had as a school principal for 15 years. The children in the particular junior high school were no different from any of the children I have worked with or seen across the country in all kinds of schools. They were good, ordinary kids, capable of making mistakes, and at the same time getting trapped into a very dangerous substance that could cause them a great deal of grief.
Over that period of 15 years I want to assure hon. members that we had to deal with a number of children at the teenage level who experimented with marijuana, who had to try it, and who got involved with it to a greater degree than they anticipated. It is sad to say that in a school with a very small population the results of the children engaging in this particular substance ended about 80% of the time in tragic ways.
This is a dangerous drug. We cannot take it lightly. We have heard the comments that it is no different from a can of beer and that it is just one of those things we do and then we forget it. That is not the case with a lot of young people. I am talking about people who ended up taking their lives through suicide.
It started with marijuana and the kicks it provided. I am talking about leading into better feeling drugs, whatever they might be. I have no idea what these things do to an individual, but I do know that it alters their mind and it alters their way of thinking. Any drug that does that, alcohol being a prime example, cannot be all that great if we overdo it.
In many cases people who have entered into this activity have ended up overdoing it and getting into situations that caused them, their families and their parents a great deal of grief. This is the plea we hear from victims all across the country and all across the school sector.
During the 15 years I was there, parents would say that we would have to do something to keep marijuana and other types of drugs out of our schools, that it was dangerous and could lead to bad things like automobile wrecks, and activities that we would never think of doing under normal conditions.
Over the last few years we have seen what overindulgence in drinking can cause. It causes a great deal of grief for a great number of people. If we are going to do it, it has to be done properly, but I am not sure how that particular thing is done. How do we properly do things that alter the mind and that cause us to do things that we would not ordinarily do?
The bill is not intended to make big criminals out of kids who make mistakes and I agree with that. However, at the same time, let us not go soft enough in the direction that it might lead kids to think that even the Government of Canada supports a certain amount of use of this type of drug.
That to me is the fearful step that can lead down a slippery slope ending up with the results that I have seen personally with friends of mine whose children either died at their own hands, in a tragic accident or just by doing a stupid thing. It is dangerous. We have to recognize that.
I see all kinds of flaws in the bill. For example, having 30 grams is considered safe and will not result in a criminal record.
I have checked with some people who have experimented with this particular drug. I certainly have not; I am no expert on it because I have never used it. I am no expert on it because I never went to the extent of finding out exactly what impact it does have. I have only seen the results from dealing with those who have been on it.
I have been told, and I believe it is true, that 30 grams would make a terrific high for a great number of young people, that up to 12 or 15 kids could enjoy 30 grams of marijuana. What are we saying here? Obviously if it can supply 12 to 15 young people with a sufficient amount of stuff to last for quite a while and cause a great reaction or whatever it is that it does, then if one individual has that much, how much damage will it do to that one person if that is for his or her own personal use?
That is what is being said in this bill, that up to 30 grams is okay. If that amount makes 50 to 60 cigarettes, joints, or whatever they are called, that sounds like an awful lot. I do not believe for a moment that we can take that lightly, yet this bill is willing to do that. We have to change that. That just cannot be the case. Thirty grams can be rolled into a lot of joints.
I have also been told that a 30 gram bag of marijuana has a street value of approximately $300. We have a fit today if a kid is carrying around a $10 pack of cigarettes. If a person under the age of 18 is carrying cigarettes that he or she spent 10 bucks for, that is against the law, and of course we are going to fine him or her. We want to do the same thing here except here we are going to say that up to 30 grams of marijuana is okay. Well I am afraid that is way overboard. That is carrying things way too far.
Imagine the amount of profit that the person could make if he or she a had a 30 gram bag of that to sell every day. If the person was caught, he or she would pay a $100 fine, no big deal. Maybe the next five days he or she would not get caught and would sell a bag for 300 bucks each day. That would be a pretty good profit.
What are we doing when we come up with this soft way of looking at these serious issues if not giving out the message that maybe some things are worth taking the chance? From my experience, going into marijuana at any degree would not be worth the chance.
The end result in too many cases has been too severe to allow legislation to fluff it up enough that it encourages some people to say, “Wow, I could do a little of this. I can take a chance. If I get caught, sure I will get a small fine, but nothing too serious will come out of it,” or “I could get up to 30 grams to throw a big wing-ding of a party and be the supplier”. It seems to me if someone is supplying 30 grams to some other people just to have a wing-ding of a party, then the person is breaking the law in that sense.
I do not know where we are going with this. I remember there used to be a time when, if a minor was in possession of booze, the first thing they wanted to know was where he or she got it. If an adult had provided booze to that minor, that adult would be in a lot of trouble. People went to jail in those times. Now it is not even mentioned. It is not even talked about. It is not a big deal.
We are relaxing things too much in too many areas of this type and it is not leading to good things. It is leading to some very bad things that are occurring in our society. We need to stop and think about it. If there ever was a piece of legislation that we needed to have a real good look at during committee, and I hope all parties will do that, this bill would be it. The bill is seriously flawed and it needs correcting. I hope the committee will come back with a document that makes this House open its eyes and say, “If we are going to protect our kids, particularly the young people who engage in these activities, then we have to get tougher on how we deal with it”.
When we are dealing with a product that happens to be so easy to obtain in a prison where there is zero tolerance, then zero tolerance has to mean zero tolerance. Let us make these bills mean what we say. Let us not soft pedal.