Trudeau won’t say whether Liberals will delay cannabis legalization

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OTTAWA — With one Senate committee after another recommending changes, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left the door open a crack Wednesday to the possibility of a delay in enacting his Liberal government’s much-maligned cannabis legalization bill.

But with less than two months to go before Parliament breaks for the summer, Trudeau was non-committal on the question of whether his government would bend to a call from the Senate’s Aboriginal Peoples committee to delay the measure by as much as a year.

In a report Tuesday, the committee denounced as “atrocious” the government’s efforts to consult with Indigenous communities, urging the Liberals to delay Bill C-45 to properly negotiate tax sharing, prepare culturally appropriate education materials, draft addiction strategies and ensure First Nations can decide for themselves whether they want pot to be legal in their communities.

The Liberals were hoping to legalize recreational use of cannabis by July, but have already indicated that deadline would be pushed back by several weeks to give provincial governments and police authorities time to prepare for the new law.

When asked whether he’d be willing to delay implementing the bill, Trudeau didn’t answer directly, but indicated the Liberals will hold discussions with a number of affected communities as they forge ahead with legalization.

“We’ll continue to consult a broad range of Canadians,” Trudeau said as he entered a meeting of his caucus.

“And as our parliamentary secretary Bill Blair says regularly, legalization is not an event, it’s a process. And that process will continue.”

Two other Senate bodies also called on the government to take more actions to prepare for legalization.

The chamber’s committee on national security and defence urged the government to seek further clarification from the United States about the treatment of Canadian travellers, fearing those who admit using pot legally could face lengthy border interrogations or be turned away entirely.

“Canadians must be confident that they will still be able to cross into the United States without fear that activities legal in Canada will be held against them,” senator and committee chair Gwen Boniface said in a statement.

Concerns were also raised about unintended economic consequences, should Canadians doing business with the U.S. suddenly find themselves unable to cross the border, said Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais.

“The mobility of people and goods across the U.S. border is crucial to Canada’s economy,” Dagenais said. “We cannot afford to be unprepared.”

The Senate’s standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs expressed “serious concerns” with the potential impact of cannabis use on vulnerable populations, including youth and people living with mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

It also suggested Ottawa negotiate revenue-sharing agreements with provinces and municipalities to split money collected through ticketing for cannabis-related offences included in the legislation. And it called on the government to specify what authority provinces and territories will have to regulate — or even prohibit — possession and cultivation of cannabis plants in designated areas.

Trudeau repeated Wednesday that legalization would squeeze organized crime out of the lucrative cannabis market. But a real estate group warned against allowing people to grow marijuana in their residences until new regulations are in place.

Canadian Real Estate Association head Michael Bourque called on the government to place a moratorium on home cultivation until provinces can pass stricter housing rules to prevent property damage, such as the spread of mould and fungus through ventilation systems.

Bill C-45 would allow individuals to grow up to four marijuana plants each for personal consumption.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill before the end of June, although the chamber’s social affairs committee is still conducting its own study.

The legislation as currently written stipulates the law won’t come into force until Trudeau’s cabinet fixes a date through an order of the governor-in-council.

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

10 COMMENTS

  1. This whole idea of making pot legal is as we all should know…nothing less than a tax grab. What a sad way to raise money for a government supposedly elected to protect the people.

  2. Agree with bri. Not so much with Lexi. This was always about the vote anyways. Will more people smoke it ’cause it’s legal ? I’m sure they will. Is the gov’t ready, especially the police ?? Not at all. Will the underground economy keep flourishing ? Most definitely!! Has our junior pm handled this whole fiasco well ??Most definitely not !!! Remember, it was always about the vote. Planning and good judgment by this liberal gov’t was an after thought. Good luck to many of us who might just end being collateral damage for more complete incompetence by this liberal gov’t.

    • Don’t worry about the liberal gov’t they are on their way out, they are about as useful as teats on a boar. We surely won’t be voting for them to run Canada into the ground any further.
      It appears that you are quite naive as well and have no idea as to the huge amount of daily pot users that have been driving most of their lives after smoking a bit of pot, with no issues. Frank, you are old and square. You should think about stepping down from city council, too. Let some new blood take over with some fresh thinking, new ideas and take this troubled shrinking city out of the stone age.

      • Where did Mr. Fata in his post say anything about the number of people driving after they ‘smoke a bit of pot’? I think his remarks were a little more broad spectrum than that. They will have to watch carefully for driving infractions, since we can (and I agree with Frank here) assume that, because its legal, it will be more easily accessed and smoked more regularly, particularly, I think, by those who had never before tried it. I can’t piffle the matter away, as can you Carrie, because I know too many who have lost loved ones via impaired drivers. So, I can only hope that they can regulate inpaired toking as easily as impaired boozing. I’m thinking probably, but I don’t know.
        .
        What is going to be especially difficult to regulate is the warning to young girls and women who may get pregnant who are unaware of the potential birth defects of cannibis useage (any route). That’s the tough one. The assumption people might make is that the stuff if totally harmless, because the government is legalize it. Well, they legalized booze and cigarettes also, both of which have harmful health, including prenatal, defects. This information is from study results that have been ongoing, studying people over a serious of years. That’s the tough one. We are talking fetal growth restriction, and poor development of frontal cortices, they centers for planning, judgement, decision making and execution of complex movements, sight and hearing. (this is easily googled) I hope there is a warning on the packaging….the least than can be done upon legalization of a prenatally risky substances. Senators (not hockey players) from First Nations communities want a stay on this legalization because they are having enough problems with their kids and substance abuses..they want some time to figure out how they might stop their kids from abusing yet another easily acquired drug which might create a larger mess than they have already. I agree with these Senators; we have too many stones un turned regarding the safety, regulation and long term social impacts of cannibus legalization…we need to take a step back and do some more serious planning before we rubber stamp legalization.

  3. Lets hope for a delay. The thought of person high on this drug and then getting behind the wheel of a car is frightening to say the least. Many lives will be saved if Trudeau delays.

    • Are you kidding? You can’t be that naive! Tens of thousands of people have been smoking weed and driving every day for decades. It is the boozers that are the biggest danger, by far.

      • You are correct. Likely its been used for centuries. The difference is that they didn’t drive multi-ton machinery, more like horses and carriages. Booze, unless moderately consumed, can be a great danger to the drinker and others. We need to be careful I think, in comparing booze to cannibus . Say alcohol has been the greater problem over the ages (you may well be right); this does not mean that there are *no* concerns linked to cannibus useage. There may be less to cannibus useage, but this doesn’t give it a free pass because it’s not believed to be as harmful as booze.

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