Mr. Speaker, I was very grateful for the comments made in support of Bill C-45 by the member opposite. I just want to clarify a point.
He spoke quite effectively on the important regulatory measures the bill contains in order to control, for example, the quality, potency, and circumstances of production and sale of cannabis. At the same time, he advocates for a system that would maintain a prohibition with civil penalties.
I would like to quote for him remarks made by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in its document on a public health approach to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. It acknowledges that decriminalization can address a single but important social harm, but it also says that this model fails to address certain very important things. For example, it states, “Under decriminalization cannabis remains unregulated, meaning that users know little or nothing about its potency or quality. As long as cannabis use is illegal”—and prohibited, as advocated under the decriminalization model of my friend—“it is difficult [if not impossible] for health care or educational professionals to effectively address and help prevent problematic use.”
It goes on to say that decriminalization may encourage commercialization of cannabis production and distribution.
Quite frankly, I have never heard of street gangs and Hell's Angels being referred to as a disconnected cottage industry, but I can assure him, from decades of experience, that there are serious criminal enterprises involved in the production and illegal distribution of cannabis in our country.
Finally, CAMH points out that in other models of decriminalization, it inevitably results in an increase in the number of people who are being penalized.
Could the member share with us what he believes would be involved in passing new legislation that would decriminalize it and in establishing an enforcement and regulatory framework? As well, might he agree with me that it would be expensive and time-consuming to do it wrong, as compared to what overwhelming expert opinion suggests is the right way to do it?