When a legislation was proposed on Thursday, April 13 which would provide regulated and restricted access to cannabis and crack down on impaired driving, it was targeted towards the safety of Canadian youth.
According to government sources, the current approach to cannabis does not work. It has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth.
“As a former police officer, I know firsthand how easy it is for our kids to buy cannabis. In many cases, it is easier for our children to get cannabis than it is to get cigarettes,” said Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice. “Our plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this. It will keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and stop criminals from profiting from it.”
That is why the Government of Canada, after extensive consultation with law enforcement, health and safety experts, and the hard work of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, introduced legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis.
The proposed Cannabis Act would create a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada.
Following Royal Assent, the proposed legislation would allow adults to legally possess and use cannabis.
This would mean that possession of small amounts of cannabis would no longer be a criminal offence and would prevent profits from going into the pockets of criminal organizations and street gangs.
The Bill would also, for the first time, make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor and create significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related offences.
In addition to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis, the government is toughening laws around alcohol and drug-impaired driving.
Under the government’s proposed legislation, new offences would be added to the Criminal Code to enforce a zero-tolerance approach for those driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.
Additionally, the proposed legislation would authorize new tools for police to better detect drivers who have drugs in their body.
Subject to parliamentary approval and Royal Assent, the Government of Canada intends to provide regulated and restricted access to cannabis no later than July 2018.
The government will invest additional resources to make sure there is appropriate capacity within Health Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Department of Public Safety to license, inspect and enforce all aspects of the proposed legislation.
These additional resources will also allow the government to undertake a robust public awareness campaign so that Canadians are well informed about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.
Working in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities and local communities, the government will also make appropriate investments to train and equip law enforcement so that Canada’s roads and highways are safe for all Canadians.
In the months ahead, the government will share more details on a new licensing fee and excise tax system. It will also continue to engage with all levels of government and Indigenous Peoples.
According to the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Cannabis Act reflects an evidence-based approach that will protect Canadians’ public health and safety.
“Today, we are following through on our commitment to introduce comprehensive legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis and to create new laws to punish more severely those who drive under its influence,” said Wilson-Raybould. “By tackling alcohol- and drug-impaired driving with new and tougher criminal offences, Canadians will be better protected from impaired drivers and the number of deaths and accidents on our roads will be reduced.”