Members of the Senate’s Aboriginal peoples committee are recommending the Liberal government hold back on legalizing cannabis for up to a year in order to address its potential for harmful effects in Indigenous communities.
The committee, chaired by Liberal Saskatchewan Sen. Lillian Dyck, said in its report on Bill C-45 that the government simply did not consult enough with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities before pushing ahead with its plan to legalize the drug.
“Many communities are really worried about the potential adverse effects on their members, and especially on their youth, and it may be even worse because of the trauma in their communities,” Dyck said, adding existing social issues in Indigenous communities could be made worse by increased drug use.
If passed, the amendment would delay the bill’s full implementation for up to a year.
As currently written, the bill stipulates the law does not come into force until a date is fixed by an order of the governor-in-council — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. A final vote on the bill is scheduled to occur in the Senate on or before June 7, with legalization expected to follow eight to 12 weeks later.
The committee said the government should take that time to negotiate a revenue-sharing agreement with First Nations communities.