Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member from the Conservative Party of Canada for his question. I, too, have met with educators. First of all, there is a role for him to play when he meets the principal of his school and the students.
We are often invited to meet with students in secondary schools. At such times, we must clearly state that it is still illegal. It is still forbidden to have marijuana on one's person. We must convey this message. That is the first thing to do.
When certain people inside or outside this House say, “Everything is legal now; you can go ahead”, these people also have a responsibility. If the message that is sent to the public and the message the public receives is that it is legal; well, it is not. Make no mistake. What we are discussing is not that we are going from a system where it is illegal to a system where it is legal. We remain in a system where it is illegal. It is still illegal.
However, the penalty or punishment may differ from a criminal record with all the attendant ramifications. Often, for young people who get caught because they tried it once or twice, the consequences of a criminal record have an impact on job opportunities later, as well as on the possibility of travel to such countries as the United States. And God knows that to travel outside Canada, one often has to wait for a connection in the United States. Thus, the consequences for these young people are worse than if they were to be punished with a ticket and eventually a fine.
What I would like to say to my colleague is that it is a question of balance. What we must do, in the most solid and most logical way possible, is to ensure that the punishment for these young people is not worse than the crime, that is, that they do not lose job and travel opportunities that will have an impact on the rest of their lives, because of a minor offence—still illegal, but minor.