Mr. Speaker, I wrote an entire speech, but listening to everybody debate this, listening to some of the questions that have been asked by some of our Liberal members, I feel it is really important that we have the conversation and not just look at some of the talking points or things of that sort. As with everything I do, I come here as who am I, and that is a mom of five.
I will talk about the way I parent. I wish I knew exactly the riding of the member over there with whom I ride the bus. Every time I have a question about cannabis, I just ask that former chief of police everything I need to know. I do thank him for always having those respectful conversations with me and answering every question I have ever needed to ask. I would like to put that on the record.
We talk about cannabis and what we have to look at for our kids. Whether we are calling it weed, doobies, blunts, reefers, or all of those other words we have heard, we really have to look at how we are approaching this. It does really concern me because I believe that the legislation—is it right or wrong to do this legislation? It is not the choice I have, but what are the parts in this legislation I cannot agree with?
I will be honest and put all my cards on the table, because I think that is what Canadians are expecting from us. I believe in decriminalizing cannabis. That is something we should look at. I think that is because I have those sit-down family discussions with my kids, with my nieces and nephews, with my parents, because I think the biggest thing we need to recognize is that it is out there, and what can we do that is better to serve?
I will not say that decriminalizing makes it right, because I do not believe it is the right thing, especially when it comes to our youth. Therefore I want to talk about parts of the legislation that really do need to be tweaked, because we are harming children if we think this legislation is right.
There are two parts of this legislation I looked at. One has to do with the age of ability to purchase. As I have indicated, with five children, my youngest is 14 and my oldest is 23 years old this year. My 23-year-old, my 21-year-old, my 20-year-old, and my 19-year-old will all be eligible, as of July 1, 2018, to purchase marijuana.
I will not tell my children's stories, but I have seen first-hand what happens after marijuana use. Whether they see grades drop by 30% or attendance go from perfect to nothing, parents are having to deal with these challenges each and every day. When we talk about it, I want to make sure the government is listening.
We have talked about what happens to children who have smoked marijuana. The Canadian Mental Health Association has talked about the formation of the brain, and I am really concerned. As the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo mentioned, children's brains are not developed until age 25, and what is said is fair, but we had a task force saying it should be 21 years old and now we have legislation to make the legal age 18.
I will put it on the record, because I believe the only reason it is at age 18 is that is the age at which a person can vote. I think this is a vote-seeking motion, and I am really angry about that. Other members may not be, but I have the right to say this, because as a parent of five, I am very concerned that the government is not taking into consideration what will happen to our children. I ask parents to sit down with their kids and start talking, because that is not what we are doing here.
I decided to take this conversation to my family, so I sat down at Easter. When we were all supposed to be celebrating Jesus, we talked about marijuana, because I needed to hear from the people who knew best, my nephews and nieces, my sister who is a high school teacher, another sister who is a principal in elementary school, my brothers-in-law who have careers, and my sister-in-law who has worked so hard when it comes to understanding, and she actually goes out to counsel families.
I had to bring this down to what it really meant. The moment I said that my son Christian, who is 14 years of age, would be able to possess marijuana with no charges, the conversation took a totally different turn, because we all want to protect Christian because he is 14 years of age.
However, we have to understand that this legislation would not really do that. We have children who will be in grade 9 and will be in high school with people who will be 18 years of age, able to buy this, and then the next thing we know, here we go, have a good weekend. Did we not think this would happen? That is what really frustrates me. Let us get it right. Let us sit down and talk to our 14-year-old children and ask ourselves if we want our children to be able to possess marijuana without being charged. Do we want them to know that this is right or wrong?
I am also very concerned that we are looking at the medicinal use of marijuana as well, when it comes to when people use it. I am a huge supporter of medicinal marijuana because I have seen people and I have lived with someone who has been on OxyContin. I can say that it has negative effects. Therefore, for years, I have advocated for medicinal marijuana. I am very scared that when we legalize marijuana for all Canadians and open it up and say they can get it at 18, we know our 12-year-olds are going to get it, for sure, as well. Let us be honest.
Are we going to stop funding important research that needs to be done so that the people who are using medicinal marijuana are getting the proper strains they need? I am very concerned that we are not going to do that. We will say we have legalized it, and we are going to use the science for all of this other kind of stuff, but are we going to make sure that the people who need it the most, who have been using medicinal marijuana for the last number of years, are going to get the proper care they need? Therefore, I want to ask the government if it is going to continue to invest in the research on medicinal marijuana.
I was very happy when I was here listening to the debate yesterday and the day before on Bill C-46, which truly intertwines with this bill. I heard one of the members from the other side comment on the zero tolerance, so I am going to mix in this part as well.
We have to understand that, if people are using marijuana for the first time, the reaction they have is going to be extremely different from that of people who have been daily smokers for the past 20 years. However, we are saying this is how we are going to take it, and if they have so many grams we will take them in and process it and check the THC levels. Let us be honest here. If people have had marijuana for the first time and get behind that wheel, it is a hazard. It is unsafe. They are going to kill themselves or another person. We have to be sure we are putting the safety and security of Canadians first.
I do not believe that Bill C-46 goes far enough, but I am happy that we are going to go back to debating it.
I am going to go back to my family, and we are going to talk a little more about kids. We have heard time and time again from the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Canadian Medical Association, or counsellors who have dealt with cannabis for a number of years, and we know that we are opening up a Pandora's box.
I am very concerned with this because I do not think that we actually have all of the tools we need in place. I was really happy to see budget 2017 come out with $5 million for education. However, as many of my colleagues have said, we are educating them when the horse is already out of the barn. We are putting the cart before the horse. This is very simple. People are going to be educated about cannabis after they have started smoking it. Let us be honest here. Should we not get it started by having the education for our teachers, our parents, and our children, to make sure they know what they are getting into? It is a safety warning, but we are going to put the safety warning on after they have inhaled.
It was really interesting listening to some of the members also talk about tobacco and how we have stopped doing things. My former boss is part of the tobacco transition fund. My community, and the five communities in southwestern Ontario, were huge in the tobacco industry. We know there were some really good campaigns out there. Of course we did see a number of adults who continued to smoke, but older people were beginning to quit. Those were some things we saw as well. We know that campaigns work. Therefore, I am asking the government why it is putting a campaign about combustible cannabis out after the fact.
I do not understand that. If we are trying to teach people about the problems with marijuana, why would we not be teaching them right from the start? We know that putting combustible things in our lungs is bad for us, just like tobacco. When are we going to do the education?
I am so fearful that the government is so pressing on this, wanting to get it through by July 1, 2018, that it is going to forget about Christian, Garrett, Hannah, Marissa, and Dakota, my five children. It is going to forget about everybody else's children, because it is more concerned about getting this legislation through, because Liberals want to keep a promise they made during the 2015 election.
I know there are some very good MPs over there. I am pointing at him. I hope and I plead with him, as a former police officer, to know that as a parent, I need to make sure that the government is going to protect us. This is something that goes through regardless of whether we like it our not. There is majority government. I beg the government to know my children are relying on it. The safety of our communities is relying on it. Do it right. Do not do it fast.