House of Commons Hansard #185 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was project.

Topics

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent is on the finance committee and expresses a lot of common sense there, but he has absolutely lost his common sense here tonight. He talked about a measuring stick to measure how high the plants are, but a measuring stick going to the ceiling would not measure all of his exaggerations here tonight.

I will ask the member the simple question that the parliamentary secretary asked earlier: what are you going to do instead? The Government of Canada is recognizing it, is legalizing it, is controlling it, is educating with respect to it, and is starting to deal with this problem. What would the member opposite do? What are you going to do instead to actually control the problem—

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I do not know if the hon. member for Malpeque wants to know what I would do. I do not think that is what he means, so I would encourage him to address himself to the Chair and to speak in the third person when referring to other members in the House.

The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to answer the question of my hon. colleague from Malpeque. It is a great pleasure to work with him at the finance committee, even if we disagree on so many issues. I respect him a lot.

We have to have more severe controls against the people who benefit from illegal marijuana. If the government wants to convince people to be very careful with respect to marijuana, I would ask the MP to convince his counterparts in the cabinet to be sure to give the necessary money, because the government wants to spend $1.9 million a year for the 36 million people in Canada. The states of Colorado and Washington spend $13 million a year, while the Liberal government wants to spend less than $2 million a year. If it wants to protect people and inform them that it is wrong, it needs to spend the money necessary, not the pennies it will be giving toward enforcing it.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:25 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's oratory. He has obviously woken up the House. I am afraid I am going to put everyone back to sleep.

As I stand here with my colleagues, Canadians are paying close attention to the discussion we are having on the legalization of the distribution, sale, and possession of recreational marijuana in Canada. This subject no doubt evokes many emotions on all sides, and I know there can be some strongly held views on this issue.

I feel that the government has rushed into the bill without really stopping to consider all the consequences. The Liberals are doing it to meet a campaign commitment without considering all the repercussions and effects that this legislation scheme may have.

In April, shortly after the legislation was introduced by the Liberals, I had the opportunity to host a series of community round table meetings with municipal officials throughout my constituency. I met with mayors, reeves, councillors, MLAs, and media. One of the very major concerns that these officials had was with respect to the timeline of the bill. The Liberals have introduced this very broad legislation, setting the minimum age, the number of plants, and the potency of marijuana that can be sold. They then basically told the provinces and the territories to develop their own implementation plan for the rest. That means there could be 13 different regimes across Canada.

In the lead-up to what they knew was impending legislation from the feds, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association asked the Province of Alberta to act. As a result, in Alberta, the provincial NDP formed a secretariat to deal with this issue. That is great. The problem is that the secretariat in Alberta is excluding the municipalities from being part of it.

The Liberals keep talking about consultations with municipalities and municipal involvement, but how can this work? When the provinces are tasked with doing most of the heavy lifting for the feds, the municipalities are in fact left out of the decision-making process at the grassroots level.

As a former mayor for many years, I have a particular concern about the impact on communities and on municipalities. Municipalities are really concerned about this rush to legalize marijuana completely. They are concerned about the fact that they are going to have to pick up the tab for a variety of new responsibilities that are essentially being dumped on them overnight.

Municipalities will likely be responsible for enforcement and zoning, as well as for creating an entire new set of by-laws surrounding this new regime. With respect to zoning and by-laws, there will be a very long process. Staff will have to develop a plan. There will be public meetings and hearings. Advertising will have to be done. City staff will devote countless hours and resources over several months. There is a time factor here, and it cannot be rushed, which calls into question the government's timeline.

Licensing is not a cash cow, despite what some on the government side would have us believe. It will not be anywhere near what is required to cover the new costs this regime will impose on municipalities.

In a previous sitting of the House, I asked the Liberals what concrete actions they would be taking to support municipalities, seeing that they had dumped such a huge burden on them with very little time for them to adapt. The answer from the government side was quite generic, and it is not something I am particularly enthusiastic about. For example, the parliamentary secretary mentioned providing equipment and training, but did not mention who would pay for it. This does not help municipal planning.

Another area that will impact municipalities is they will have to rewrite their HR policies, because now they will have the threat of people coming to work under the influence of marijuana. The last thing any municipality wants is an employee operating heavy equipment while under the influence.

Enforcement as well means a whole new set of rules and regulations, planning, and money spent by municipalities.

The Liberals have essentially washed their hands of having to do any of the local work on this file. They have told municipalities, “Here is a big new change; you have about a year to implement it. Have a nice day.”

This is unfortunate, because I am sure that municipalities in my riding would have been willing to work collaboratively with the province, but they have been exempted from that. It is unfortunate that the province would not allow this to take place.

Another area of concern that I heard in the private sector while crisscrossing my riding hosting community roundtables was the concern surrounding workplace regulations regarding health and safety. Whether these organizations are small to medium-sized enterprises like ECS Safety Services in Brooks in my riding of Bow River or large outfits like oil and gas sector companies, there are some major concerns about work-related marijuana use.

As we know very well, my home province of Alberta has a large oil and gas sector, and it requires a significant amount of labour. These sectors now struggle at times to have enough clean employees. Coming under the influence of marijuana now is another significant challenge they are going to be facing.

I understand that the federal government must respect constitutional division of powers, and it says it is consulting with municipalities. It talks about some of the 22 major cities, like Toronto. In my riding, there are none of those 22 major cities. They are not talking about where the vast majority of our rural people live, so when they are talking about consulting, they are talking about some of the 22 major cities. That is not where I am from.

However, the Liberals can absolutely consult with the provinces to make sure they are going to support the municipalities. There is a process, if they wish to do it strongly enough. The federal government could, by funding, support these new powers for enforcement. It could come through the form of equal sharing of the tax revenue generated by legalized recreational marijuana. Let us consider the federal gas tax model, for example, where we cut out the middleman, which is the province, and the money goes directly to the municipalities, mostly. If it does not, it is property taxes that would end up covering the cost of this, because municipalities will be doing the heavy lifting at the grassroots level.

There are other ways the government may be able to support this as it rushes the terms of this brand new piece of legislation. However, if it does not take the time, if it pushes it too quickly, it will be the property tax payers as the major source of revenue for municipalities. As a result, taxes will go up in the local municipalities to pay for this scheme.

Lisa Holmes, president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, has said that many Alberta municipalities could theoretically be ready by 2019, one year or so later than the government's deadline. If there is any way the government could work with the provinces to provide them with some flexibility in timelines and implementation, this might work. Ms. Holmes understands that, otherwise, the only way this new regime would be paid for is by property taxes in municipalities.

Another group of those concerned are many of the provincial premiers, including Liberal premiers. The NDP Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley, has expressed concerns about the short timeline.

There are many other issues that are arising from this legalization. For example, I found it somewhat distressing that we are going to be encouraging people, including young people, to smoke marijuana now, when for years we have been trying to get people to stop smoking. For years, I was involved in a regional health care board, and I was also an educator. We worked very hard with the resources we had to deliver public education on anti-smoking issues. We worked hard to educate youth as young as 10 years old on the hazards of tobacco smoke. The goal of these campaigns was to ensure that these youth never started smoking, period. In one case, we had more money to do this than the Liberals are spending across the country in five years. The $9 million spread out so meagrely over five years is tragic. It is simply not enough.

There is an opportunity here to mandate that federal taxes go to municipalities for health promotion and prevention. A specific percentage should be mandated by the federal government to ensure that prevention is being adequately funded, because $9 million is just blatantly wrong.

In tobacco prevention, one of the biggest at-risk groups, where prevention was least successful, was with pregnant teenagers. We already have a situation where these young pregnant girls, the mother and unborn child, are at risk. With Bill C-45, the Liberals are adding a new toxic substance that is going to put these girls and unborn children at even more risk. Here is a disturbing fact. One in seven teenagers will get addicted to smoking marijuana once they begin smoking it. In single, pregnant teens, that number is even going to be higher.

The government is facilitating this more by its outright legalization. It is facilitating it by making it easier for teenagers to get their hands on marijuana. This is the reason we need significant funding for prevention, and it is up to the federal government to take the lead. It is not enough to simply download it.

With all this in mind, I look forward to continuing debate on Bill C-45, with the hope that the government will reconsider the timeline. We really need that reconsidered.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 p.m.

Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the member for what was a thoughtful and quite relevant speech. I particularly commend him for his observations and comments on the challenges that a change in the way in which we strictly regulate and manage this problem could present to local municipalities. I am a municipal guy myself and have spent a great deal of time over the past several months travelling across the country meeting with mayors, police chiefs, fire chiefs, people involved in public health, and bylaw enforcement. I recognize and very much value and appreciate the comments made by the member opposite in that respect.

I want to provide a comment, if I may. I promise you, Mr. Speaker, that I will get to my question in a moment.

Our focus has been on reducing harm, but we recognize that there is a revenue implication, that money will be generated from this. We made a commitment that the money, from a federal standpoint, will be reinvested in prevention, research, treatment, and rehabilitation. The conversations we are having with our provincial partners are to recognize that there needs to be an investment in the administration, oversight, accountability, and enforcement of these regulations, and that means a partnership with our municipalities. I want to assure the member opposite that we recognize the importance of municipalities.

If we all unite in this together, does he believe that will do a better job of ensuring that our municipal partners have the resources they need to fulfill their role in keeping their communities safe?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I want to remind members that it is question or comments. They are allowed to make a comment or ask a question, but they do not have to do both.

The hon. member for Bow River.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:35 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his kind words.

Part of the challenge of going ahead with this is the short timeline we have. I understand how consultation works, and it takes a long time. I understand the relationship between the federal government and the provinces. The disconnect is with ensuring the funding gets to the municipalities. The government really has to get that done. Whether it can get that done and provide a clear commitment that the municipalities can understand in black and white, and it flows to them, is the challenge. If the government can do that, it will make a difference. They need to know it and plan for it.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:40 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, a major employer in the riding that I represent in Nanaimo is a company called Tilray. It is one of 27 licensed under the MMPR federal framework that the Conservatives put in place. It hires 120 professionals: horticulturalists, Ph.D.s, and people who left the silviculture industry and now cultivate marijuana. It is among the top five private-sector employers in my region. Its $26-million capital investment, in year one, turned into a $48-million economic output in Nanaimo. It has created 215 direct jobs. This was zoned by the municipality.

I am curious as to whether the member has had any experience with similar municipally zoned operations that seem to work within the legal framework and benefit the local economy.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:40 p.m.

Conservative

Martin Shields Conservative Bow River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague bringing up the zoning issue. Companies may have initially been looking to locate in larger municipalities, but we are now hearing that they may want to locate in more rural settings, which affects more of us outside the 22 major cities. That is a challenge that we need to be prepared for, but we need to know and understand what the implications are and how it would work. This is not a simple process of planning and zoning. It will take time. If companies locate outside major urban centres, it is going to take time, and we need more lead time than the timeline we have.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour of speaking to Bill C-45, which our government introduced to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis consumption in Canada.

The cannabis bill represents a new approach to cannabis, one that puts public health and safety at the forefront, and will better protect young Canadians. The current approach to cannabis does not work. It has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit while also failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it is easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes. Canadians continue to use cannabis at some of the highest rates in the world. It is the most commonly used illicit drug among young Canadians.

In 2015, 21% of youth aged 15 to 19 reported using cannabis in the past year. That is one in every five young people in this country. Too many of our youth see cannabis as a benign substance. They are often ill-informed on the harm that it can do, and are unaware that early use increases susceptibility to long-term effects on cannabis.

Youth are especially vulnerable to the effects of cannabis on brain development and function. This is because the THC in cannabis affects the same biological system in the brain that directs brain development. At the same time, too many people today are entering the criminal justice system for possessing small amounts of cannabis, potentially impacting their long-term opportunities. Clearly, there has to be a better way of educating and protecting our youth.

Given these facts, I would like to focus my comments today on the benefits of this legislation for youth. This is one of our government's primary objectives of Bill C-45, to protect youth by restricting their access to cannabis. I would begin by noting that this legislation is just one piece of the overall approach to addressing cannabis use by youth. Our government's commitment to keep cannabis out of the hands of children is made up of a number of complementary measures aimed at safeguarding their health, safety, and well-being.

Specifically, our government is trying to reduce cannabis use by youth, to restrict their ability to obtain the product, to provide them with better information on its health harms and risks, and to keep them out of the hands of the criminal justice system for possessing even small amounts of cannabis.

This approach requires legislative and regulatory measures and support for public education and awareness. To this end, our government has begun a public education campaign with a focus on youth and their parents, to better inform them about cannabis and its health harms and risks. I am confident that our government's overall approach will be effective in better protecting our youth from potential harm of this substance.

I would now like to explain the specific measures in the cannabis bill that would help safeguard our youth. As a society, we have learned from the health and safety controls that have been put in place for potentially harmful substances, such as tobacco, alcohol, and prescription medications. Bill C-45 uses these best practices as its starting point and contains a number of measures that are designed to protect youth.

At the outset, Bill C-45 prohibits the sale of cannabis to anyone under the age of 18 and prohibits adults from giving cannabis to anyone under 18. It also creates an offence and penalty for anyone caught using a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence. Any adult caught engaged in these activities would face a jail term of up to 14 years.

To avoid the kind of enticements to use cannabis that we have seen in the past with tobacco, Bill C-45 would prohibit any form of cannabis designed to appeal to youth. This means that things like cannabis-infused gummy bears or lollipops would be illegal.

To further protect youth from the encouragement to use cannabis, cannabis producers and retailers would be prohibited from using any kind of packaging or labelling that might be appealing to youth, or using any kind of endorsement, lifestyle promotion, or cartoon animals to promote their products. The promotion or advertising of cannabis products would not be permitted in any place or any media that could be accessed by youth, such as grocery stores, movie theatres, or on public transportation, just to name a few examples.

To further reduce the chance that youth might be able to access the product illegally, cannabis would not be sold in any kind of vending machine. Bill C-45 also includes authority to make regulations that could require cannabis to be sold in child-resistant packaging to protect our youngest ones from accidentally consuming the product.

Taken together, these measures constitute a comprehensive approach to protecting the health and safety of our youth.

In addition to protecting public health and safety, one of our government's goals is to avoid criminalizing Canadians for relatively minor offences. Having a criminal record for simple possession of small amounts of cannabis can have significant consequences. Opportunities for employment, housing, volunteerism, and travel can all be impacted by the existence of a record. Do we want to continue to saddle Canadians with these burdens for the possession of small amounts of cannabis? Our government's answer is no.

The proposed legislation sets out a 30-gram possession limit for dried cannabis in public for adults aged 18 and older, and as I stated earlier, it also establishes offences and strict penalties for adults who give or try to sell cannabis to youth or who use a young person to commit a cannabis-related offence.

Bill C-45 takes a different approach to cannabis possession by youth, one that recognizes that in some circumstances, entering the criminal justice system can do more harm than good. Under Bill C-45, youth would not face criminal prosecution for possessing or sharing very small amounts of cannabis. Any activities by youth involving more than a small amount of cannabis, defined as over 5 grams, would be addressed under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Our government will be working with the provinces and territories to support the development of legislation in each jurisdiction that would allow law enforcement to confiscate any amount of cannabis found in the possession of a young person. This would allow authorities to take away any amount of cannabis they may have in their possession.

Let me be clear. The proposed approach addressing youth possession of cannabis does not mean that such behaviour is encouraged or acceptable. It is not. Rather, it recognizes that a more balanced approach that uses a range of tools and does not rely only on the criminal justice system will provide a better way to reduce cannabis consumption among youth.

This approach is consistent with the findings of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, led by the Honourable Anne Mclellan. The task force's final report noted that cannabis use among youth could be better addressed through non-criminal approaches that discourage youth from possessing or consuming cannabis. I believe that this strikes the right balance between avoiding criminalizing youth for the possession of small amounts and ensuring that cannabis remains tightly regulated and controlled.

In conclusion, our government has put the health, safety, and well-being of youth at the core of this proposed legislation. I am confident that through this balanced approach, we will see less high-risk cannabis use by youth, and we will begin to bring down the rate at which our youth use cannabis.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:50 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of things I would like my colleague and neighbour to clarify. First, the Liberals continue to claim that all of their recommendations are based on solid science and scientific evidence. The CMA clearly has recommended 21 as the minimum age, and the government is going ahead with 18.

They also talk about a highly regulated and controlled system, yet they are allowing four plants to be grown per household. How we highly regulate and control something where there are four plants available to teenagers and children is beyond me.

Finally, the Liberals are pretty convinced that this will drive all the traffic out of criminal hands. I am just wondering if my colleague really believes that illegal drug dealers will line up for the privilege of buying licences and paying HST. Does he really think it will drive these illegal drug dealers out of business?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, we proposed an age of 18, but it is up to the provinces to decide if they want to increase that age. We are presenting the framework. We mentioned that one in five youth is using cannabis.

In terms of taking it out of the hands of criminals, the illegal use of marijuana is fuelling a lot of criminal activity. If we legalize, restrict, and regulate it, we are making it safer for youth, and we are taking away this criminal activity of trafficking cannabis.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:50 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, my Liberal colleague stated quite clearly in his speech that the Liberal government is very much against the continuing criminalization of marijuana, and that is the reason it is bringing the bill in. The only problem is that Canadians have to wait at least another year for the bill to come into force. The government has now been in power for about 20 months, and Canadians have to wait another year. During that time, thousands of Canadians have been subjected to criminal sanctions through the criminal justice system, all in the context of the Jordan decision. I am just trying to match these two opposing positions.

Which is it? Is the Liberal government in favour of reducing criminal sanctions, or is it not? Why do the Liberals' actions in the interim not back up their words?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have struck the right balance. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice has gone around the country and has talked to individuals and to police forces. He came to Waterloo region and spoke to our region about the legalization and regulation of marijuana. He said that if we were just going to legalize marijuana, we would not have the right balance. Regulating and restricting is the right balance.

The NDP just wants us to get this legalized, but we are taking the right approach. We are consulting with everyone around Canada. This is the right balance.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on the comments made by my colleague and correct a comment that was just made. We are not just talking about legalizing marijuana. My colleague brought up the point that while we are waiting for the framework and the regulations, people are getting criminal records, many of them young people. Saskatoon has one of the highest rates in Canada of arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and more often than not, it is young people.

I just want to make sure that my hon. colleague realizes that we are not just legalizing cannabis. We are asking the government to decriminalize it so that young people do not have a lifetime with a criminal record.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, the law remains the law as of right now. Until cannabis is legalized, by the summer of next year, the law remains the law.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

10:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, marijuana legalization would certainly have a big impact on society as we know it, and of course, I am speaking with regard to Canadian society. In particular, I am talking about Canada's overall health and the well-being of Canadians in this country. What the Liberals are attempting to do in this one piece of legislation, which they are rushing through this House, actually required decades of work when it came to doing something similar with alcohol and tobacco. With a significant change to our legal code, and the responsibilities that would be imposed on provinces and municipalities, I believe that we need to ensure that the Liberal policy is backed by scientific evidence, which, to be fair, I have reason to be skeptical of, based on committee work and other pieces of legislation the Liberals have actually put through this House. It certainly has lacked these components in the past.

We also need to make sure that the provinces and the municipalities have time to properly develop rules and regulations in their areas of jurisdiction. This is to say nothing about consideration for employers, who would then have to implement policies within their workplaces as well.

I have concerns about Bill C-45. I believe that it has flaws, both with its rushed time frame and its lack of scientific backing. I wish to explore those to a further extent today.

The legalization of marijuana is a policy area that must be informed by science. When I say this, I am particularly concerned about the health and well-being of our country's young people. We know from the Canadian Medical Association, as well as the Canadian Paediatric Society and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, that marijuana has negative health impacts on a person's brain before the age of 25, in terms of development. I have talked to young people from coast to coast, and I am impressed by the fact that many of them actually are also concerned about this. This is one of the things they raise when I hold round table discussions or a town hall and I talk to them about this piece of legislation and the decisions going forward. They tell me that 18 is simply too young. They recognize that using cannabis actually slows and harms brain development in those under the age of 25, and many of them are fearful that the use of marijuana will in fact cause schizophrenia, which of course has also been scientifically and medically proven. Furthermore, I know from peer-reviewed research, as well as from speaking to youth directly, that the legalization of marijuana would also reduce the perception of risk among young people. In other words, it would normalize the use of marijuana.

The last thing I would like to mention with regard to young people is that for youth under the age of 18, under this piece of legislation, if they were found in possession of less than five grams of marijuana, they would not be prosecuted. I have to ask, then, how this would in fact reduce access by youth. This is one of the primary arguments the Liberals use to defend this piece of legislation, and unfortunately it just does not hold up.

If the government insists on moving forward with this poorly drafted legislation, then at the very least I believe we need to ensure that there is strong and comprehensive education put in place with regard to our young people. That needs to be put in place before marijuana is legalized in our country. While cannabis education is accounted for in the 2017 budget, the plan is to put forward only $9.6 million, not over one year but actually over five years, which means less than $2 million per year for education. That is how important the Liberal government thinks our young people are. They are worth not quite $2 million of public education per year, not to mention that there is no way the education program is going to be sufficiently in place before the deadline of July 1, 2018.

While Bill C-45 clarifies the need for health and safety warnings on product packaging, by the time a young person has the product in his or her hands to read that label, it is too late for that individual to really learn about the risks. We cannot afford to overlook the necessity of education for the sake of simply rushing this legislation through. I believe that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to defend and champion the future of Canada's young people. For that to be the case in the matter before this House today, both medical and scientific evidence must be given supreme weight when we put in place this legislation.

I also have serious concerns with regard to the ability to test for impairment, particularly, while driving. Scientific research shows the struggle to detect marijuana when it comes to impaired driving. Unlike alcohol, the amount in the bloodstream does not indicate the level of a person's impairment. THC is not easily detected by a breathalyzer because of the drug's nature as a fat-soluble substance.

Cannabis also affects chronic users to a lesser extent than first-time users, so this would have to be accounted for as well, because the same amount in a person's system is not going to have the same impact.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has found that marijuana significantly impairs a person's ability to focus when there is more than one source of incoming information. This describes driving very well. When a person is driving and they are using marijuana, it actually causes them to swerve on the roadway, it causes them to maintain dangerous following distances behind other vehicles, it sometimes causes them not to miss a pedestrian as they are crossing the street, and it causes the inability to monitor one's speed. Of course, all of these factors lead to a high probability of crashing. Worse than that, they lead to the loss of life all too often.

With cannabis being the second most common substance detected in drivers after an accident, second only to alcohol, the danger of impaired drivers on our roadways must be considered and the risk must be mitigated.

Furthermore, many concerns have been shared with me by provincial and municipal officials in my riding. They have said that while the federal government is responsible for overseeing the production of marijuana and the Criminal Code exemptions for recreational cannabis, it really is up to them. They are required to design the rest of the regulations related to public health and zoning, along with managing the system for the sale and the distribution of marijuana. They feel that this is quite a burden to be placed on them. Of course, it is being placed on them and it has to be in place by an arbitrary deadline of July 1, 2018.

Why July 1, 2018? This is much too soon for provinces and municipalities to be able to adequately put the needed regulations and bylaws in place. By the time the bill passes, they will have only six months to do that, because it is likely that the legislation is going to be in the House until about Christmas.

If that were not enough, the provinces and municipalities also have to create non-criminal offences for youth under the age of 18 if they wish to further deter the use of marijuana among young people. This is needed because the legislation before us allows youth between the ages of 12 and 17 to legally possess five grams of marijuana.

In conclusion, I do have significant concerns with regard to Bill C-45, the cannabis act. However, before I wrap up, I believe it is time for a fun fact.

The legislation allows for four plants per dwelling. I am from an agricultural background, so naturally I was curious as to just how much this would yield. A quick Google search and some of the most reliable do-it-yourself bloggers tell me that one plant will yield 1,200 grams. They also tell me I have to be careful. I have to use the right bulbs in order to produce that much. I did some further research and I found out this equates to 800 joints. Then I multiplied that by four, in order to figure out that actually we can produce 3,168 joints within that household. Then I found out that, on average, a user smokes about three joints a day. That means four plants will provide each household with just under three years' worth of joints.

I do not know about members, but this seems a little excessive to what a person might need for their individual use. I wonder if perhaps at some time the Liberals could clarify their thinking there.

We should be looking at the information presented in order to find facts on how the drugs affect the development of youth, and not accepting a politically motivated age in order to hurry up the process. We must look at potential education plans to inform our citizens about the risks. Furthermore, we must work with law enforcement to come up with better ways to test for THC levels, along with better ways to test an individual's level of impairment.

In addition, we should be talking to provincial and municipal governments to understand the timelines needed for creating distribution systems and new regulations.

Here is the thing. We need to admit that this legislation is only half-baked, and the last thing the Liberals should be doing right now is pursuing a political buzz by letting Canada go to pot.

Let us end on a high note. Let us roll up this legislation and let us get out of this joint today.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

11:05 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the member's premise that if we legalize and regulate cannabis, somehow everybody will have four plants per household. I will point her to the fact that green peppers, onions, carrots, and cucumbers are legal in Canada, but does every household in Canada have a garden? The answer is no, not every household has a garden.

My question for the member is this. Does she want Al Capone or the Hells Angels to control the market? Does she agree with that approach? Does she want Al Capone and the Hells Angels to continue to control the market?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

11:05 p.m.

Some hon members

Oh, oh!

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

11:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. Order. I am sure hon. members on this side have confidence in the hon. member for Lethbridge and know that she will be able to answer without their help. Let us listen to each other and show respect.

The hon. member for Lethbridge.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

11:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think what the hon. member across the way is asking me is if I can take the skin of an onion and roll it up and smoke it. The answer is no, I cannot do that, which is maybe the reason not everyone in the Canadian population is growing onions, peppers, or lettuce just because they are legal and they can have a garden.

Here is the deal. If we want to talk about getting marijuana off the black market, which in essence is the member's question, we need look no further than the great case study of Uruguay, which was the first country to actually go legal. What it found was that the black market increased drastically after marijuana was legalized. I encourage the hon. member to look that study up.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2017 / 11:10 p.m.

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I really appreciate the horticultural knowledge that is being shared at this moment in the House.

There have been a lot of folks talking about youth. I think one thing we can all agree on is that all members here have the best interests of youth in mind and we all want to make sure we are making the right decisions for youth in our country. However, having listened to the debate today, my question for the member opposite is this. Does she truly feel that the status quo is working?

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the question from the hon. member is if I really think that the status quo is working. Essentially, Liberal logic would say that a lot of young people use marijuana, which right now is illegal. Therefore, if it makes it legal, they will stop using marijuana.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member brought up one international example. As we know, Canada is party to three international treaties governing how narcotics are dealt with, including the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961, the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1971, and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in 1988. I have not heard the government mention this, but has it given any indication of pulling out of these treaties?

I would like to hear the member's thoughts on the impact it would have on Canada's reputation if and when the government proceeds with removing itself from these three treaties under which Canada has obligations to our partners.

Cannabis ActGovernment Orders

11:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will not speculate totally with respect to what the reaction would be when Canada decides to pull out of these agreements, because it will in fact need to pull out of these agreements.

A treaty is a treaty. We have signed a deal and we must uphold our end of the bargain. If we are no longer going to do so, then we have to withdraw, which could wreak international havoc. Exactly what would that look like with respect to our relationship with these countries going forward I would not entirely be able to say. However, I can imagine that it would not be exactly positive for us.