Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts.
I think all members will agree that protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a key priority for all orders of government in Canada. With this in mind, on April 13, Bill C-45 was introduced in the House. Its goal is the creation of a strict national framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis in Canada. The bill would provide for legal access to cannabis where adults could obtain it through an appropriate legal framework, sourced from a strictly regulated industry or by growing it safely and in limited amounts at home.
The bill would also establish safeguards to protect youth, including prohibiting the sale or distribution of cannabis to anyone under 18 and restricting marketing and advertising activities geared towards youth.
Growers and manufacturers of cannabis would require a federal licence and be subject to a strict oversight regime intended to control product safety and quality, and to prevent diversion to the illegal market. Effective oversight and control of cannabis cannot be achieved by working in isolation from our partners in the provinces, territories, and municipalities.
From the outset, our government has been clear that the control and regulation of cannabis requires a pan-Canadian approach, involving all orders of government, at all stages of development and implementation. This reality is reflected in the important role that our provincial and territorial partners played in the work of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation.
The task force was established in June 2016 with a mandate to provide advice to the federal government on how to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. Input from the provinces and territories, as well as from indigenous communities, was essential to the successful work of the task force.
The provinces and territories nominated experts to serve on the task force, and made suggestions as to who should be consulted. These individuals met with the task force, and shared their views on cannabis legalization and regulation and on how best to achieve our shared objectives of better protecting public health and safety.
It should come as no surprise that the input from the provinces and territories was instrumental in shaping many important provisions of Bill C-45.
Consistent with the task force report, Bill C-45 proposes a shared framework for the control and regulation of cannabis that would require ongoing federal, provincial, and territorial collaboration. The bill sets out clear controls and standards around cannabis, and provides flexibility for each government to work within their own jurisdictional authority and experience. Those who are best placed to implement each aspect of the framework would do so.
At this time, I would like to explain how the various roles and responsibilities would be shared between our governments, beginning with the federal role. Bill C-45 proposes that the federal government would be responsible for establishing and maintaining a national framework for regulating the production of cannabis, setting standards for health and safety, and establishing criminal prohibitions.
This would include establishing restrictions on adult access to cannabis and serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal system; creating rules to limit how cannabis or cannabis accessories could be promoted, packaged, labelled, and displayed, in line with the rules in place for tobacco products; instituting a federal licensing regime for cannabis production that would draw on lessons learned from the current system for access to cannabis for medical purposes; establishing industry-wide rules and standards, for example, serving sizes or potency limits, as well as a tracking of cannabis to prevent diversion to the illegal market; creating minimum federal conditions to provide a national framework to protect public health and public safety; and enforcing cannabis importation and exportation prohibitions at the border, except when legally authorized.
At the same time, Bill C-45 recognizes that provinces and territories and municipalities have a key role to play in the new system.
The legislation would respect that provinces and territories, together with municipalities, have the authority to tailor certain rules in their own jurisdictions and enforce them through a range of tools, including administrative sanctions. Consistent with the recommendations from the task force, the provinces and territories, working with municipalities, would be able to establish rules with respect to where cannabis-based businesses could be located within a community, and also where cannabis could be consumed in public.
Provinces and territories could also set additional requirements to address issues of local concern. For example, provincial and territorial legislatures would have the authority to set a higher minimum age for cannabis possession. Provinces and territories could also set more restrictive limits on possession or personal cultivation, including lowering the number of plants or restricting where they may be cultivated.
Thus, Bill C-45 is drafted in such a way as to provide the provinces and territories with the ability to establish stricter rules under their own authorities.
We are pleased to see that the provinces and territories are already taking action to prepare for the legalization and regulation of cannabis. From coast to coast to coast, provinces and territories are continuing the conversation with Canadians about how best to regulate the sale and distribution of cannabis in their towns, cities, and communities.
While provinces and territories will decide on a system that responds to their particular circumstances, it is clear that all jurisdictions share our government's responsibilities to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, to shut out organized crime, and to protect public health and safety. This is true for all orders of government.