Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to continue my remarks on Bill C-45. As I shift into my discussion and the details of the legislation, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to the former deputy prime minister of Canada and former member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, the hon. Anne McLellan. Her work, and the work of her task force, has laid a foundation for a new legislative regime that will make Canada a leader in the safe regulation of recreational cannabis.
Let me share some of the details found in the legislation. Under the existing regime, which has been in place since 2014, Health Canada is responsible for licensing and overseeing cannabis producers. These producers are required to operate within the regulations to provide quality-controlled cannabis to registered patients. This rigorous licensing process ensures, for example, that entrants to this market have gone through a thorough security check and that producers have appropriate physical security infrastructure in place. Canada also has a world-class compliance and enforcement regime intended to ensure that licensed producers fully comply with the rules in place.
Over the course of the last year, a licensed producer in Canada was inspected an average of seven to eight times, for a total of approximately 274 inspections. In May, 2017, Health Canada announced it will require all licensed producers to conduct mandatory testing for the presence of unauthorized pesticides in all cannabis products destined for sale. This adds to the system of controls in place that oversee the quality of federally regulated cannabis products. This experience will have a direct impact on the health of Canadians who may choose to use this product.
Believe it or not, a large number of Canadians who get cannabis on the black market cannot rely on quality control regulations. This bill is about safety. It is working when it comes to medical cannabis, and it is going to work under this framework. The commercial industry now has more than four years of experience and serves over 200,000 active patient registrations. This licensed production under the medical regime provides a solid basis to support cannabis production under the bill.
With the world-renown regime for producing cannabis for medical purposes, the government is on solid ground to successfully move to a new approach to cannabis that would better protect Canadians.
Our government has been working and will continue to work very closely with provinces, territories, municipalities, and indigenous communities to support the implementation of this new framework. In fact, I had a meeting with councillors from my own city of Edmonton, who met with the parliamentary secretary for the minister of justice on this file. It was a very frank and open conversation about the work the Government of Canada will be doing with the province and with the City of Edmonton. This collaboration will be critical to ensuring that all the pieces are in place to support the success of the new approach. We are pleased to note the progress being achieved by our provincial and territorial partners in developing their respective approaches.
Canada is a federal system. Provinces and territories will and must have a key role to play in the success of the new system. They would be responsible for the oversight and regulation of the distribution and retail sale of cannabis, in close collaboration with municipalities.
In cases where provinces or territories do not have a fully functional retail sales system in place once the bill takes effect, adults will be able to buy cannabis directly from the authorized federal producer by ordering it online for secure home delivery by mail or courier.
Industry representatives have indicated they are getting ready to support the timely implementation of the new regime and to ensure that high standards are met in the production of regulated product. A representative for the Cannabis Canada Association, Colette Rivet, pointed out:
Licensed producers are eager to work in collaboration and compliance with the federal and provincial governments to quickly establish effective, low-risk distribution and retail models that are well regulated, highly secure, and tailored to the needs of each province.
Upon the coming into force of the bill, adult Canadians would have access to a range of quality controlled products, including dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, and cannabis oil, which could be consumed in a number of different ways. In jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis, these products constitute the largest part of cannabis products sold on the market.
Our government also recognizes the need to permit the legal sale of cannabis edible products and cannabis concentrates as part of the federal framework as soon as possible. While it would be irresponsible to further delay the implementation of the framework to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis, it would be equally irresponsible to move in a rush when it comes to regulating edible cannabis products and concentrates. Experience in other jurisdictions, such as Colorado, as well as expert testimonies heard during the hearings of the committee, have underlined the unique health and safety challenges and risks associated with these products. Under this proposed timeline, the government would not have to rush to put these novel cannabis products on the market at the expense of public health and safety.
As I mentioned earlier, the existing system is a failure. It is a failure at keeping cannabis away from Canadian youth. It is a failure to Canadians who have faced criminal sanctions for something as simple as possessing a joint. It is a failure to health professionals who are prevented from having honest conversations with patients who hide their cannabis use because of its criminalization. It is a failure to Canadians who face the risk of purchasing cannabis on the black market.
The time has come for Canada to adopt a new approach. The time has come to bring cannabis use out of the black market and into a safe and regulated market that will protect Canadians and keep cannabis out of the hands of youth. I am proud of the work of the Standing Committee on Health in this matter, proud of the work of the department, and proud to stand as a member of this government in seeing that cannabis is safe and legally regulated in Canada.