KENORA – POLITICS – I believe the time has come to regulate the legal sale of cannabis. It’s well known that cannabis use is widespread, especially among young Canadians. More than 20 percent of youth and 30 percent of young adults have reported using cannabis in the last year. That’s why the federal government introduced legislation to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict illegal access to cannabis.
Today, over 699,000 Canadians have a criminal record as a result of convictions related to possessing small amounts of cannabis. When we look at the conviction statistics and the continued use of cannabis, it becomes apparent that the current approach is not working. It has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth. The reality is that in many cases, it is easier for kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes or liquor.
Under the proposed legislation, adults can legally possess and use small amounts of cannabis. In order to protect our youth, the sale of cannabis will be restricted to those 18 years of age and older. As a further safeguard, products and packaging that may appeal to children will be banned. The Act will also impose serious criminal penalties to those who sell cannabis to young people, as well as tighten existing laws.
Recently, a reporter in the riding asked why the penalties for selling cannabis to minors are so severe. The answer is simple; we are serious about protecting our young people. That’s why we’ve introduced penalties of up to 14 years in jail for selling cannabis to those under the legal age.
I was extremely pleased to see the legislation pass in the House of Commons, largely supported along party lines. As this Bill continues to be debated in the Senate, I am confident that once Bill-45 becomes law, it will better control and regulate the production, sale, and possession of cannabis.
While there have already been extensive consultations conducted by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, we want to ensure that anyone who wants to be heard has another opportunity. As a result, we just launched a new online consultation process so that Canadians can provide additional comments and opinions. I encourage you to do so by visiting Health Canada’s website at www.healthcanada.gc.ca,
As a parent, I feel strongly that this legislation will allow us to better protect our youth, take business away from criminals, and put public health at the forefront of our efforts.