Banning Canadians from growing a few marijuana plants in their homes or backyards once recreational cannabis is legalized would be both paternalistic and unenforceable, former federal justice minister Anne McLellan says.
McLellan, who chaired the federal task force on cannabis legalization, offered that opinion Wednesday during an appearance before the Senate’s social affairs committee, which is examining the federal government’s bill to legalize pot use.
The bill would allow individuals to grow up to four plants per dwelling — a provision that has raised concerns among senators, apartment and condo owners, municipalities and police.
Moreover, the Quebec and Manitoba governments have decided to prohibit home cultivation altogether — a move which could ultimately lead to a legal squabble over constitutional jurisdiction between Ottawa and the provinces.
McLellan declined to weigh in on the potential constitutional dispute, but she vigorously defended the task force’s recommendation, adopted by the government, that individuals be allowed to grow a small number of plants.
“Let’s not be too paternalistic,” she told the committee.
Expanding on that remark later outside the committee, McLellan said banning home cultivation would amount to “the state saying, ‘Oh, we’ve legalized this but, by the way, we don’t trust you to grow any of it yourself.’
“It is paternalistic, it is unenforceable,” she added, noting that a lot of Canadians already grow a plant or two at home.