Canadian Senators will finally vote on Bill C-45, or the Cannabis Act, this Thursday.
If the bill is passed, recreational cannabis will become legal across the country and retail sales will be launched. That specifically means Canadian adults will be able to legally possess and consume small quantities of recreational cannabis.
It’s either that or the bill would face more delays than ever.
It can be recalled that in March, Bill C-45 passed second reading in the Senate with a 44029 vote. It was then sent to five separate committees for further study before the third and final reading this June 7.
These committees are the Senate Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee; the Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee; the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee; the National Security and Defence Committee, and the Aboriginal Peoples Committee.
The investigation by the committees, however, did not go without glitch.
Once the Senate gives their stamp of approval, Bill C-45 will head back to the House of Commons one more time, at least, so members of parliament can review the Senate’s amendments. If the House revises the Cannabis Act again, it is likely going back to the Senate for some more review before it can finally be enacted.
This means that Canada’s provinces won’t be able to start opening recreational cannabis shops until the final reviews are done and regulatory guidelines have been fine-tuned. This could mean 10 to 14 weeks more of waiting.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Tony Dean, said that the slow progress is just how things should be going.
According to Dean, if the new legislation in its final form takes until the first week of October, then that’s the way it is.
“I think this is good public policy. I think that the vote will be affirmative. I think our legislation will pass.” -Bill Sponsor Senator Tony Dean.
Dean also said that a cautious approach is always the best approach. However, he expressed his confidence that the bill will eventually become law. He added that Canada is only the third jurisdiction in the world to legalize recreational cannabis, but they will be the most cautious. He also noted that the world is watching them and that they are seen as a cautious follower of big trends, where they are not exactly considered a country that takes big risks when it comes to policy terms.
Just last week, the Senate committee did a clause-by-clause review of C-45.
There were 40 amendments passed, of which 29 were proposed by Dean himself. These amendments included one that would allows the provinces and the territories to ban home-grown marijuana.
This particular amendment, Dean explained, was an area that was unclear and might get contested in court.
Another amendment related to penalties for carrying more weed than legally allowed, which is currently up to 30 grams, or for having more cannabis plants at home than permitted, which is currently up to four plants.
Dean said that these will likely be ticketing offenses, like an administrative penalty, and would not be reflected on record.
Dean has no predictions with regard to the voting on Thursday but said that the bill has already been through a thorough vetting in order to help everyone involved make a decision.
He said that after 14 months in Parliament and after a review by the five Senate committees, then there again in committee and by the third reading, they will already have exhausted their examination of the legislation and each Senator will already know everything they need to know in order to make an informed decision.
“I think this is good public policy. I think that the vote will be affirmative. I think our legislation will pass,” he stated.
Canada’s Senate has a total of 105 seats, composed of 43 Independent senators, 32 Conservatives, 11 Liberals, 6 non-affiliated, and 13 vacant seats.