Senate committees call for changes to cannabis legalization

A marijuana plant at the AmeriCanna Edibles facility

Senate committees call for changes to cannabis legalization

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joe Mahoney

May 2, 2018 11:10amET


Two Senate committees have called for adjustments to Bill C-45 — including a delay of up to one year for the government to ensure Indigenous communities are prepared for legal cannabis, and a ban on home cultivation.

Members of both the Aboriginal Peoples and Legal Affairs committees appear this afternoon at the Senate Social Affairs committee, the lead committee considering amendments on C-45.

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Senators on the Aboriginal Peoples committee are calling for a delay of up to one year to allow Ottawa to negotiate with Indigenous communities on excise tax collection, education, regulation, and health and social services. They also recommend 20 per cent of cannabis production licenses be reserved for Indigenous jurisdictions.

“Many Indigenous communities and organizations informed the Committee that they were not consulted on the subject matter of the bill,” according to the report.

WATCH: Senators on Aboriginal Peoples committee hold news conference on C-45 report

As for actual possession of cannabis, a majority on the Legal Affairs committee believe C-45 should “prohibit home cultivation,” with the report citing concerns that:

the home cultivation limit of four cannabis plants could be difficult for law enforcement to enforce and that home cultivation in general could risk more cannabis being diverted to the illicit market. Home safety concerns were also discussed, given that home cultivation could present a risk that young people would have access to the plants and consume them. Also, indoor cannabis cultivation uses large amounts of electricity, involves high humidity levels, and may raise electrical and fire safety issues, which present problems for landlords.

The report’s proposed amendments also include:

  • clarifying provincial and territorial powers over possession, cultivation, propagation, and harvesting of cannabis plants;
  • imposing a limit on the quantity of personal possession at home.

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Meanwhile, the Senate national security committee wants the government to ensure the Canada-U.S. border isn’t clogged as a result of legalized cannabis — and that Canadian travellers aren’t refused entry to the United States — or even banned outright for life — if they admit to any previous use.

While this report doesn’t offer amendments to the bill itself, it does recommend the government:

  • clarify the U.S. position on Canadians who admit previous cannabis use, are legal cannabis users in Canada, or work in the regulated cannabis industry;
  • negotiate an agreement on the treatment of Canadian travellers;
  • start an awareness campaign to remind Canadians of the possible border pratfalls that result from legalized cannabis;
  • install signs and posters and border crossings and pre-clearance facilities to remind travellers that crossing the border with cannabis is illegal.

A fifth Senate committee – Foreign Affairs and International Trade — has yet to submit its report on C-45.

Read the Aboriginal Peoples report:

Read the Legal and Constitutional Affairs report:

Read the national security committee’s full report:

 

-Andrew Thomson