Mr. Speaker, before I begin speaking to Bill C-45, I would like to highlight for those who are watching today that the Liberals took the opportunity to move time allocation on this important bill. In essence, that means they cut down the debate. They are actually refusing to hear from the members on the opposite side of the House today because they want to rush it through and get it to a vote. Why is it they want to rush it through and get it to a vote? Because they have party preparations to put in place for July 1, 2018. That is unfortunate. It is degrading to our parliamentary process to not have the opportunity to enter into a robust debate with respect to the topic at hand on behalf of the Canadians who have elected us to represent them here.
With that said, when I talk about Bill C-45 and the legalization of marijuana, I am not talking about its legalization for medical purposes, I am not talking about the legalization of marijuana in a way that is well-researched, thoughtful, or has taken into account the different factors that need to be considered, I am not talking about a bill that came out of a lengthy consultation process or a scientific endeavour, I am talking about a bill that was incredibly rushed in nature. It really did not take scientific evidence into consideration. It did not take the insight of law enforcement agents, health care practitioners, or experts into consideration. Really all it does is rush through this piece of legislation at a rate that is unnecessary and with a deadline that is arbitrary. That is of course, July 1, 2018.
I have heard from many people who are very worried about this legislation. Many have spoken out at a national level, including aboriginal leaders, law enforcement agents, health experts, municipalities, provinces, and of course concerned citizens from all across the country. Some of the things that they are saying are that they are concerned about children accessing marijuana easily and the age at which they are legally able to acquire it, the lack of education programs, the timeline and the fact that it is very rushed, the costs to the municipalities and provinces, and the fact that they really do not feel they have been given adequate time to respond. I am hearing from law enforcement agents much the same about the costs and the timeline. As well, they are bringing up drug-impaired driving. Then there is the issue around taxation. Therefore, in this time that I have, I would like to address some of these issues to a greater extent.
When it comes to children, I believe the government should take them and their future very seriously. That is part of what this place is about. There are 338 of us who have been elected to make decisions on behalf of Canadians from coast to coast. Yes, we make those decisions for today, but we also have to be aware of how those decisions will impact those who would come after us tomorrow.
Unfortunately, this legislation is ill-drafted in terms of its legal age of access, which is age 18. If we were to talk to the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, they would all say that the age of 18 is too young, that the human brain is developing until the age of 25, and that the use of marijuana impedes the full development of the human brain. Therefore, they have called for the legal age to be 25, and then said that perhaps age 21 would be a good negotiating point. That amendment was brought forward at committee. Of course, the Liberals shut that down. Therefore, it begs the question of whether the government is acting responsibly by setting the age at 18. The government also said that it would take the next generation seriously. It said that it would be the party that wants to keep marijuana out of the hands of young people. However, by setting the legal age at 18, and allowing four plants to be grown in our homes, which I will talk about momentarily, it is really not looking that seriously at keeping it out of the hands of young people.
Not only that, I heard from a group of young people who I meet with on a monthly basis to advise me on different topics at hand. We talked about the legalization of marijuana, and they said this, “If we legalize marijuana”, and of course we are going down that road, “and we do it according to the mechanisms that are at play here without education”, which there is none of right now, “it will normalize it and young people will think it is just okay, that there are no negative repercussions to the use of marijuana.” The young people I am listening to are telling me they are quite concerned. They are concerned for themselves, for their peers, and are very concerned for their younger siblings and what they might fall prey to. I think that is definitely worth considering.
A further point we need to consider related to child access is definitely education. In their budget, the Liberals did promise a considerable amount for education. They said $9.6 million over five years. In my estimation, that is not enough. I do not know if they are going to be able to afford an adequate education campaign with that amount of money over five years. Nevertheless, it is money put aside. It is money that was promised to this cause, and the Liberals did commit to a “robust”, which is the Prime Minister's word, campaign with regard to educating young people.
To date, we have seen nothing. There has been no action, nothing, just a broken promise. We see them talking out of one side of their face saying that education is very important and we want to keep it out of the hands of young people, but then out of the other side, they are actually not willing to move the dial and invest money in getting an education program up and running, which of course means that we are actually setting young people up for experimentation and for the normalization of drug use among our children.
I have yet another concern. This proposed legislation would allow for four plants to be in every household. Let me amuse the House for just one moment. I did a little research, and one plant equals 1.2 kilograms or 1,200 grams of marijuana, which is how much that would produce. If there is 0.66 grams in each joint on average, which is what my research told me, then one plant would actually produce 792 joints. However, we would be allowed not one but four plants, and four plants would actually produce 3,168 joints. Now at 3,168 joints—and on average people smoke about three joints a day, which is what my research told me—then four plants in a household would produce 1,056 days worth of joints. I ask the House if that sounds like a personal amount. I am just curious. This would leave plenty to sell and plenty to use, and those plants would be right in a person's home.
I am not speaking out on this on my own. Law enforcement agents are also very concerned about this, and they are begging the question of why we would allow four plants in a home when we are legalizing marijuana and people can go down the street and get it a store.
My next point is with regard to law enforcement agents. They came to the committee and told us their concerns, and there are many of them. One is that they are concerned about the deadline of July 1. They are telling us that they will not have their men and women in uniform trained to deal with this. They are saying that the wait list for training is super-long and the cost is extravagant. Not only that, but agents would have to be sent to the United States to access that training. In essence, they told the committee that they needed more time and more than double the number of police officers who are certified to conduct roadside drug-impaired driving testing.
This should concern us. I do not want to be on the road. I do not want my nieces, nephews, brother, sisters, parents, or anyone else on the road when there are individuals out there who are impaired, and that is normal. I am not okay with that. Again, we need that robust education program put in place so that people understand. Also, we need law enforcement agents in place so that they can actually enforce the law.
The officers who came to committee also said that we can expect about a six- to 12-month gap between the legislation coming into effect when people legally have access to marijuana and the point where the police are actually caught up and able to enforce. This is a six- to 12-month gap, and they said that this will allow organized crime to “flourish”. So much for keeping organized crime down.
I also want to draw to members' attention the costs and consequences that this proposed legislation would mean for municipalities and provinces. We are talking about a cost for our law enforcement agents. We are talking about a cost with regard to putting policy in place. We are talking about insurance costs for private employers and policy costs at that level as well. We are talking about costs with regard to just different legislative pieces that have to be put in place, and all of the consultations and legal work that have to be done around that.
All in all, the point I wish to make today is that the Liberals are rushing through with the bill. They are choosing to rush this proposed legislation through based on an arbitrary deadline that carries absolutely no weight or essence in the House. They could stop it. They could halt it. They could adequately consult. They could be responsible and listen to the experts who have spoken on this proposed legislation. Right now, the government is choosing to act irresponsibly, and I highlight the word “choosing”. They are choosing to put inadequate legislation in place over this country.