Excerpts from a speech by Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod in the House on Friday, June 2, 2017 on the Cannabis Act:
AS IS THE POLICY of our party, most Canadians think that children, young teenagers, and young adults should not be adversely impacted and have criminal records for having a small amount of cannabis. Certainly that is something that would have been important to move forward, rather than an ill-thought-out plan that probably would create some significant damages down the way.
The Liberals’ stated policy objective is going to be monitored and watched by all Canadians because the Liberal government is saying two things. The Liberals are saying, first, that they are going to protect our children, and second, that they are going to get organized crime out of this business, and that the rest of us have our heads in the sand like ostriches. The Liberals are going to be held to account, year after year as the data come in, as to whether they have actually achieved those two objectives. Certainly, there are a number of people out there who are very concerned that the design of the legislation would not achieve those outcomes.
I am going to read a couple of excerpts from a very good article that came out in the Canadian Medical Association Journal a couple of days ago. It is important to note that the Minister of Health is also a physician and that this is her professional body.
The title of the article is “Cannabis legislation fails to protect Canada’s youth”. This is an article by Dr. Kelsall. I do not have time to read it all, but I certainly encourage anyone who is interested to read the details. It was in the May 29 Canadian Medical Association Journal.
It says, “The purported purpose of the act is to protect public health and safety, yet some of the act’s provisions appear starkly at odds with this objective, particularly for Canada’s youth.”
The author then goes into significant detail, which has been spoken about in the debate up to now, in terms of young age and the particularly long-term consequences and impact of cannabis use on the developing brain, and really saying that it is not until the age of 25, when the brain is more fully developed, that it is less impactful. What did the government do? The medical association says, at a minimum, to make the age 21 for legalization because up to that age it is a real issue, so the Liberals made the legal age 18. That is the first significant area of concern.
Next, the article talks about drawing on the work of the federal task force, which “recommended taking a public health approach”, yet in the bill the age is set, even though 21 years is absolutely recommended.
The association’s next area of concern is the “personal cultivation of up to four marijuana plants”. About this, the article states, “allowing personal cultivation will increase the risk of diversion and access to cannabis that is not subject to any quality or potency controls.”
That is important. The Liberals talk about use, and I believe a lot of studies talk about the fact that the first time children smoke a cigarette at a young age is often when they have gone into their parents’ package of cigarettes and taken from that supply. That is their first exposure to cigarettes. We now would have a situation where having cannabis, whether it is purchased legally or grown in the home, becomes normalized.
To be quite frank, I think children’s access would be much easier than it currently is, especially in the case of the homegrown and particularly in the case of the potency issues.
The other issue with the home growing is that, not only do I think children are going to have more access, but why did the Liberals ever put this in there?
They talk about only being able to have four marijuana plants and they can only be 100 centimetres high, so all is fine. Who is going to monitor that? Who is going to go around with a measuring tape, measuring the height of the marijuana plants and counting them? No one. This is an unenforceable piece of legislation. It is absolutely ridiculous to have that in there.
Then there is the insurance issue. I have dealt with a number of landlords who have come to me over the years, in terms of our medical marijuana regime. What is happening is that landlords have no rights. If someone has a licence to grow medical marijuana, and they rent a home from someone and decide they are going to grow their medical marijuana, they perhaps are growing it for another person with a licence, the landlord has no rights at all. What happens after that? The landlords lose their insurance.
There has been no work that I can see done with the insurance companies, real estate associations, or provinces in terms of what the impact would be in terms of the homegrown aspect.
The FCM is here. Many people have noted they are here. I met with a number of representatives from our local area. They said, “We have a mess right now. This is a mess. We don’t know where it’s going to end up, but we’re very fearful that there’s going to be a lot of downloading on us.”
With respect to the organized crime aspect, again, perhaps this is going to work, in terms of taking it out of organized crime. There is no guarantee. I suspect that the prices are going to be high and between the diversion from the homegrown, because no one is monitoring four plants, there is going to continue to be a significant element of organized crime. To be frank, if this goes ahead, and I hope that I am wrong, I do not think that they have created the right circumstances to remove organized crime out of this particular business. Perhaps, in many ways, they will be getting into the legal component of it.
I am going to conclude by stating what my concerns are. Absolutely, age is number one. Second is the ability to grow in the home, and the third is just
a personal thing that I find to be particularly offensive. When the Liberals came out, with great pride, to announce the movement forward with their cannabis legislation, they said, “We’re going to have it in place for July 1. It is going to be there for Canada Day 2018.”
In 2018, when I am watching the fireworks on Canada Day, I hope that people do not say this is what is making it special, because the Liberals think that we cannot enjoy our celebrations of our country by watching the lights and the different displays without being stoned. I think it is incredibly offensive that they want to attach legalization to Canada Day, a day on which we should be filled with pride, and they just think it is important that perhaps people can enjoy being stoned during these festivities. It is really offensive.
In any event, I hope members listen to me on at least the issue of age and the issue of home growing.