Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to debate Bill C-45. I want to start by saying opposition members are fooling themselves if they believe that young people are not already using cannabis. They are using cannabis in record numbers. The present system just does not work, and we need to do something. In some cases, we have heard it is easier to buy cannabis than it is to buy cigarettes and beer.
The current system is allowing criminals and organized crime to profit. Some people argue, as the former member did, that cannabis is a gateway to far worse drugs. I will tell the House what a gateway is. A gateway is when our young people are buying cannabis from a pusher whose only goal is to get this kid hooked on something even far worse. That is the gateway.
I agree that something needs to be done as far as education is concerned. Bill C-45 includes this. We need to warn young people about the harmful effects of using pot. I was happy to attend, just in the last hour, an event sponsored by the Canadian Nurses Association. Their members are aware that everyone needs to be educated. They released a list of how to reduce the harms of non-medical cannabis use. I thought it was very helpful, so I thought I would mention some of the ideas they have. Barb Shellian, who is the president of the Canadian Nurses Association, says this is a non-judgmental approach, because they agree that whether we like it or not young people are going to consume cannabis. I will list some of the concerns they have, because they are concerns for all of us.
Number one, they say to reduce the harms of non-medical cannabis use, delay use until early adulthood.
Since the risk of dependence is higher when use begins at an earlier age, cannabis use disorder and its related health harms may be reduced or avoided if use is delayed until early adulthood.
I agree. We agree. This is the education that must get out to our young people.
Minimize frequency of use—Because the risk of harm increases with the rate of use, avoid frequent, daily or near-daily use.
That is good advice.
Try to stop when use becomes hard to control—Frequent users of non-medical cannabis who experience difficulty controlling their use should attempt to stop, with professional help, as necessary.
Minimize respiratory complications—To reduce respiratory complications, avoid smoking cannabis with tobacco, refrain from deep inhalation and breath holding, and consider using a vaporizer rather than smoking.
Avoid using amounts that are large or highly concentrated—Be wary of excessive use or high-potency THC cannabis, including synthetic cannabinoid products. Consider adjusting the dose by using only the amount needed to achieve the desired effect.
While some people might think this is encouraging the use of cannabis, this is education our young people need. I am so glad that the Canadian Nurses Association has put this together. There are a number of further ideas that I think we should all hear about.
Refrain from using non-medical cannabis with alcohol—Mixing non-medical cannabis with alcohol can increase impairment exponentially and can also cause anxiety, nausea, vomiting, or fainting.
Number seven, of course:
Avoid driving while high—Given the effect of cannabis consumed by inhalation typically peaks after 30 minutes and gradually subsides after 1 to 3.5 hours.... avoid driving for at least 6 hours after use by inhalation... Wait longer if high-potency products or larger doses were used, if acute impairment persists or if the cannabis was used with other substances (including alcohol).
This is information we need, and information our young people need. We know young people are consuming cannabis, but are they getting this information? I am so glad that the Canadian Nurses Association has put this out.
Number eight, share with care is an interesting point:
Users should take care to minimize lip contact with joints or implements for smoking or vaporization. Shared items that come in contact with the lips increase the risk of transmitting infections, including meningitis, influenza and other pathogens.
Vulnerable groups should abstain from use—An increased risk for cannabis-related problems can occur in high-risk groups, including pregnant women and individuals with a personal or family history of psychosis. These groups should avoid use altogether.
I could not agree more, and this is information our young people need. It continues:
Use caution when ingesting cannabis—To avoid accidental overdose with cannabis edibles, “start low and go slow.” States where cannabis is legal recommend starting with no more than 10 mg of THC and waiting at least two hours before ingesting more.
This is really good information that comes from the Canadian Nurses Association. I am sure it is on its website, if members want to check it out.
I am so happy that our government is investing in public education and law enforcement, because we not only need to regulate, we need to educate. Therefore, our government is investing up to $274 million to support law enforcement and border efforts to detect and deter drug-impaired driving and to enforce the proposed cannabis legislation and regulations.
We have committed up to $161 million for training front-line officers in how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving; building law enforcement capacity across the country; providing access to drug-screening devices; developing policy and bolstering research; and raising public awareness about the dangers of drug-impaired driving.
Provinces and territories will be able to access up to $81 million over the next five years for new law enforcement training. This is important. We know that we need to do this hand in hand with legalizing cannabis.
Our government has also committed $46 million over five years for public education, awareness, and surveillance. These additional resources will also allow the government to undertake a robust public awareness campaign so that Canadians, especially young Canadians under the age of 25, are well informed about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.
Our government will invest additional resources as needed to make sure there is appropriate capacity in Health Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to license, inspect, and enforce all aspects of this proposed legislation.
In the months ahead, our government will share more details of a new licensing fee and excise tax system. It will also continue to engage with all levels of government and indigenous people, because we know that not only the federal government but the provinces and municipalities are very interested in how we are going to roll this out and how the tax system will impact the coffers of their governments.
I want to go back to what I was talking about before, about how we cannot keep our heads in the sand. We have to be realistic that the number of young people smoking pot, consuming cannabis, is very high in Canada. It is one of the highest in the world. This is something that has concerned every parent of a teenager. My children are adults now. I am a grandmother. I worry about the harmful effects of cannabis on my young grandchildren when they get to be teenagers, but I know that by then, we will have the education they need to make sure they are making wise decisions. Decisions are being made by young children every day in this country, and for the most part right now, many young people are making those decisions without thinking twice, without even considering the harm it will do if they decide to start to smoke cannabis.
I look forward to any questions.