Parliament: Bill C-45 – Raising concerns regarding overly harsh punishments in the cannabis legislation

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has given a very balanced speech. I took the bill back to the riding with me and spent a lot of time studying it right after it came out for first reading around April 13. I took it back and read it through over the Easter weekend, and I shared with my constituents what I distilled from it.

It has that sense of balance. I was concerned about a number of aspects. I also want to make sure that public health is central. I am a mom and a grandmom, and I may be the only person who grew up in the 60s who never smoked cannabis. I have concerns about putting anything in my lungs. I have always been cautious, and I am cautious with my kids.

That is why I thought the bill did a good job in terms of having public information and having strict controls. If anything, as I mentioned earlier in this place, the one concern I have about the bill as drafted is that the punishments are overly harsh in some of the criminal aspects for someone who is over 18 and is distributing marijuana to someone under 18.

How does my colleague think we will confront what I think are some fear-based tactics? I have looked up the Colorado experience online, researching it since we have been sitting here, as I had not been able to get in on the debate. It seems to me that what we have heard about Colorado—and perhaps the hon. member can throw some light on it—is not the case; rather, the teens in Colorado were already consuming cannabis much more than teens in other states before it took the measures to legalize. Their experience thus far appears to be cautiously optimistic. They are not seeing more fatalities or car accidents. They are not seeing more organized crime.

The governor, who did not want this to pass when it came forward as a referendum, now says that he would not want to go back to prohibition. He describes the war on drugs, in his words, as a train wreck.

Getting this right is going to be important for Canada, because I think we are going to lead the way for a lot of jurisdictions.