Cannabis Act Passes Senate
Bill C-45 has moved on to the next stage! In last night’s historic vote that took place in the Canadian Senate, the Bill was passed in a concerted victory of 56-30 vote counts with 1 abstention.
In 2015, the Liberal Party made a promise to Canadians to legalize and regulate cannabis. This promise is one step closer to coming into fruition. After an extensive consultation from the Task Force, Canada’s Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould sponsored the bill and presented to the House of Commons in Fall 2017. It passed from the House of Commons on November 27, 2017 and made its way to the Canadian Senate. An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts was adopted on March 22nd, 2018 at the end of the second reading in the Canadian Senate. Subsequently, a Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology was formed that proposed 32 amendments to Bill C-45. The bill survived and moved on to the next stage. During the Third Reading in the first week of this month, we saw 14 amendments made from the Senators. Given the tone of the Canadian Senate on “criminalization” and “reefer madness”, not surprisingly, only 4 amendments were adopted.
The bill has progressed on to the next stage. What happens now? The bill will be sent to the House of Commons, where it will go through a review process and final approval. With a Liberal-dominated House, we can expect some of the Senate amendments to be seriously challenged (such as establishing a public registry of cannabis industry investors and directors, prohibition of the brand element outside cannabis or cannabis accessories, etc.). Both the chambers will exchange messages until they agree on the final text of the bill. Once passed by both chambers in identical form, a bill becomes law when the Monarch or designate —usually the governor general —grants Royal Assent. It must be noted that the Date of Royal Assent is not the date of the enforcement of the Act. The date of enforcement of the Cannabis Act will be dependent on the provinces and the full implementation of the Act will most likely not happen until Fall, 2018. The Liberals have won this victory at the third reading, but they still have a long way to go. As MP Bill Blair said, “Legalization is not an event, it’s a process.” We surely are a part of this process- all Canadians, together, in this process to become the first G7 country in the word to legalize recreational cannabis at a federal level.