Article by David Brown, Lift News
The Cannabis Act, Bill-C45, has passed second reading in the House of Commons today, and will now be referred to the Standing Committee on Health (HESA). It passed with 200 for and 76 against.
HESA is chaired by Bill Casey (Liberal). Vice chairs are Len Webber (Conservative) and Don Davies (NDP), with over 100 associate members from the Conservative, Liberal and New Democrat parties. Associate members are eligible to be named to subcommittees and to act as substitutes for regular members who are unable to attend committee meetings.
HESA has handled other issues in relation to cannabis, including a report and government response on marijuana’s health risks and harms.
Debate during second reading took place over several days before the government introduced and passed time allocation to limit debate yesterday. Debate around the bill has thus far largely broken down along party lines, with Liberals defending the bill as being the best approach to controlling, regulating and restricting access to cannabis in Canada, and the NDP expressing support for the bill but noting concerns with issues like the continuation of arrests for personal possession, a lack of amnesty for past arrests, and some of the more strict penalties under the new law for things like distribution to minors. The Conservatives have opposed the bill, citing concerns with things like increased access to youth, a lack of criminal charges for youth who possess small, personal amounts under 5 grams, personal cultivation allowances, and the ‘normalization’ of cannabis.
Rachael Harder, one Conservative committee member, has been an outspoken critic of the bill during second reading, specifically identifying concern with issues like the proposed four plant limit for personal cultivation and the lack of criminal charges for Canadians under the age of 18 for possessing less than five grams. Colin Carrie, another Conservative senator on the committee, expressed similar concerns, citing recent opposition from the Canadian Medical Association Journal’s to the four plant cultivation allowance.