I do know better.
I support this bill. It is important to look at a 2015 UNICEF report that showed that Canadian youth have the highest rates of cannabis smoking in the developed world, but at the same time also have the lowest rates of cigarette smoking in the developed world.
The hon. member is right: cigarettes are legal. They are sold, regulated, and subject to restrictions and legislation on how they are sold and packaged. The point is that 80% of Canadian youth in that survey said it was easy to get marijuana. Now, if we are concerned about youth, if we are concerned that 80% of them have access to this illegal drug and have the highest rates of smoking this drug in the developed world, it tells us that what we had been doing has not been working. It tells us that we have been unable to stop our young people from getting access to cannabis, young people whose frontal lobes are very susceptible to the effects of cannabis.
As for all the things the hon. members spoke about regarding impaired driving, etc., it also means that they are going to be driving impaired, and that everyone is going to have access to this drug without our having any ability to regulate it, look at it, or look backward at what the surveys are showing us to see what the issues are that are affecting people. It is obvious to me that we have to do this because we have to get rid of organized crime. The people profiting off our youth are organized criminals, because they are selling it to them.
It is very clear in the legislation that we will legalize this drug, then regulate it, and then put all of the legislation penalizing the sale of tobacco to minors, with the same penalties, behind the selling of cannabis to minors. I do not know of any drug that is equivalent to tobacco. Tobacco is the only drug that, when used as directed, will kill us, because we will get heart disease, high blood pressure, emphysema, chronic lung disease, or a stroke as a result. The issue is that we have this currently legal drug, but thanks to all of the policies, programs, and legislation we have put in place for tobacco, our children are now among the lowest users of tobacco in the world.
If we take that template, look at the evidence that suggests that 80% of our youth can get cannabis, and recognize that we currently have the largest number of youth in the developed world smoking cannabis, we have to do something. Therefore, let us look at the experience we have had with tobacco. Let us look at this and continue to regulate it. Let us us make sure that it cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18, and let us make sure we are monitoring impaired driving and use.
For instance, we know there are tools that exist right now to monitor impaired driving. At Christmas time we see the police out on the roads looking for people who are drinking and driving. Look at how much MADD has done with respect to the issue of drinking and driving. What we are trying to do now is to try to achieve the same results so that we can eventually have our young people among the lowest users of cannabis in the same world, in the same way they are among the lowest users of tobacco.
Not to do this would be absolutely irresponsible of this government, given that evidence, and so I do support this bill. I agree with the member that we have to keep monitoring. Cannabis is not used or consumed just via smoking. We need to look at the impact of smoking or using cannabis in other forms. There is oil, leaves, and brownies, and all kinds of other ways of using cannabis. We need to consider we look at the quantity and quality of the cannabis, because we want to make sure that people are not getting what they are now. I understand that the best bud in the world comes from British Columbia. We need to be able to look at that kind of qualitative analysis when considering the amount of cannabis in a cigarette, or whatever a person is using.
These are important things for us to regulate and monitor if we really care about the medical effects and if we really care about the use of it, and yet, I point out that cannabis has positive benefits, which I cannot say for tobacco. Cannabis has positive benefits, and we know it is used for neurological pain and in terminal illness to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy. We know it is useful in many instances. There is proof that there are some medical uses. How we monitor that will come through regulations. How we look at what the impacts are will come through regulations.
It also means that, when we have a piece of legislation, we do our homework and we do our surveys and we check out how many people are using, how many children are using, what the reasons are that they still use, how we can tighten that legislation. All of those things are things we will treat the way we did with tobacco.
At the moment, I see this as a good bill. Prohibition did not work. I see this as protecting our youth. I see this as preventing the supplier right now, which is organized crime, from being able to supply on the black market, in schools, and everywhere. I see the idea of putting a ban on promotion to youth so that we are not going to have the nice gaudy little things that appeal to youth, but packaging that is not going to appeal to youth. That is part of the legislation when we talk about looking at packaging. The devil is in the details.
It is important to look at the fact that we are talking about non-promotional packaging to youth. It is important to work with the provinces, because it is provincial police and city police who are going to be looking at impaired driving. We have tools now to look at cannabis-impaired driving, and we are going to have the training ready that is necessary for law enforcement officers.
What I like about this, which we never had with alcohol and tobacco that are still legal, is that we never put the kind of money into that proactive public education, public awareness, public understanding that there are side effects to this drug, as there are to alcohol and tobacco. The appropriate usage, the amount of dosage, this is where we will be able to start building the research capacity, the indicators, etc., that will tell us what is the appropriate way to use this drug.
Keeping it out of the hands of our children is the priority for me. It is the biggest responsibility this government has, and looking at all of the evidence—and our friend talked about evidence-based decision-making; this is evidence-based decision-making—at least we will be keeping our children safe; at least we will be monitoring usage; at least we will be checking up on who is selling and why. The penalties for people selling to minors is particularly high. It is a maximum of two years in jail, or is it $5 million, or $3 million? We are looking at the same kinds of penalties we have for tobacco, yet I do not hear any members across the way talking about tobacco. I do not hear them talking about the ills of tobacco. Maybe we should not legalize tobacco. Maybe we should make tobacco illegal, if they care that much for the health of Canadians.
Maybe we should look at how we deal with alcohol, because at Christmas when police are standing on the streets with a Breathalyzer, they are checking for what drug? They are checking for alcohol. We know that these drugs have negative effects. We know that one or two of them have some positive effects. I understand that there was work being done to say that red wine taken in moderate amounts is good for our heart and our blood pressure.
I am saying we have a responsibility to bring forward this legislation, and anyone who stands in the House and says they care about our youth and about the health of Canadians would support this, because it is a way to begin to control something that right now is not controlled at all.