The Senate, The Government and Cannabis: Why The Bill C-45 Debate Matters

Article by Greg Engel, Organigram via Globe and Mail

The Senate, the government and cannabis: why the Bill C-45 debate matters. Greg Engel is the CEO of Organigram Holdings Inc.

On June 7, the Senate voted to pass Bill C-45, the proposed rules related to the legalization of cannabis in Canada. The Bill is now back with the House of Commons along with a series of amendments recommended by the Upper Chamber.

A number of the amendments, including a ban on the home growing of cannabis, are particularly controversial. Commentators have noted some senators’ highly restrictive, almost antagonistic, approach to the legislation. At times, the Senate review seemed to almost disregard the two years of public and expert consultation that have gone into the development of this framework.

While it appears likely that the House and the government will ultimately reject a number of the amendments, it seems an opportune moment to remind ourselves why this process began and what we hoped to achieve. Among those objectives were the protection of youth and the elimination of the illicit cannabis market. Are we on course to achieving those goals? What, if anything, stands in the way of the safe, responsible and thriving legal cannabis market Justin Trudeau’s government first envisioned?

The Senate review and debate reminds us how important education is to mapping out a reasonable and reasoned path forward; a path that helps us achieve our original goals, while establishing a viable competitive market that balances commercial and social success.

They also remind us that fear should not write legislation. Two specific examples come to mind:

First, one of the issues the Senate grappled with is proposed limits on the potency of THC, the psychoactive agent in cannabis. Some public-health proponents suggest that these limits will help protect consumers from the dangers of ingesting marijuana. This line of reasoning, while well intentioned, is also misguided and short-sighted.

In fact, it is physiologically impossible to smoke or ingest enough THC to have a lethal effect; estimates suggest you would need to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times the normal dose. By comparison and on average, alcohol is estimated to be lethal at 10 times the effective dose.

Read the full article here.

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