Madam Speaker, when considering whether to allocate additional time in the House for debate, it is important to consider the significance of the legislation being debated.
Bill C-45 is important legislation that proposes to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. Despite decades of criminal prohibition, Canadians continue to use cannabis. In fact, Canadians have some of the highest rates in the world.
Currently, cannabis is grown and sold illegally, generating profits for criminals and organized crime with no concern for public health or safety. The current approach to cannabis is not working. Scientific evidence shows greater risks associated with cannabis use for youth than for adults. Moreover, risks are greater the younger a person starts using cannabis and the more often they use it.
The objective of the legislation is intended to delay the first use of cannabis and reduce the frequency of use. A sustained education and information campaign is also part of the approach. The bill would also impose serious criminal penalties for providing cannabis to young people or enlisting them in committing cannabis-related offences.
The bill is also about creating a legal and regulated market for cannabis, taking profits out of the hands of criminals and protecting public health through strict product requirements for safety and quality. The key components of our government's approach are first, protect youth; second, education and public awareness; third, product safety and quality controls; and fourth, goals and responsibility and implementation.
Let us begin with protecting youth.
We know that too many youth have easy access to cannabis. In fact, during the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation consultations nation-wide, a trend became clear: how easy it was for young people to obtain cannabis.
Young people are at the heart of the government's strategy to regulate cannabis and restrict access to it for three reasons.
First, there are risks associated with the use of cannabis. Even though some people use it for medical purposes, it can still be harmful to a person's health.
Second, young people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of cannabis on the development of the brain and brain function because their brains are still developing.