Mr. Speaker, at some point in time, we could perhaps have a greater debate on the merits of legalization versus decriminalization, but I would simply and succinctly say that experience has shown us that one cannot regulate that which is prohibited, and decriminalization maintains a prohibition. It simply replaces a criminal sanction with a civil sanction, but the prohibition remains in place, and as long as there is a prohibition, there cannot be a regulated supply or distribution system. That is why I believe so firmly that, in order to get this right, we have to lift the prohibition in order to implement a proper and comprehensive framework for the regulation of production and distribution.
With respect to the specific question that he asked about the opportunity for small growers and craft growers, I can assure the member that the regulations Health Canada has brought forward do not in any way impede the participation of small business. In fact, the overwhelming majority of licences that have currently been issued have been to companies with fewer than 100 employees and, therefore, qualify as small businesses.
There are, of course, very strict regulations in place to ensure that the purity and potency can be known and verified before anything moves to market. Those standards are in place to protect the health and safety of our citizens, so we will not compromise on those, but we will not, in our regulations, impede the participation of the small business owner or the small craft producer. As long as they are willing and able to abide by the strict regulations that are being put in place, they should be able to participate in the market.