The issue of home-grown marijuana will remain the biggest hurdle next week as the Senate and House of Commons try to get the bill legalizing marijuana passed into law, predicts the man who shepherded the legislation through the upper chamber.
Independent Senator Tony Dean, who sponsored Bill C-45 in the Senate, spoke with West Block host Eric Sorensen this weekend about what he predicts will happen once the bill lands back on senators’ desks (now likely to happen mid-week).
“We’re in the process of developing that position as a group of independent senators,” Dean said.
“I can tell you that my personal view, is that like a number of other senators, I was a little bit disappointed with the government’s response [last)] week.”
The government, after reviewing over 40 amendments proposed by the Senate in early June, rejected over a dozen of them. Included in that list is a provision that would allow provinces and territories to determine if they want to allow home-grows.
WATCH: Government rejects Bill C-45 amendment that gives provinces right to ban home-grows
The Liberals want to set a limit of four plants per household that’s consistent across the country, but Quebec, Manitoba and Nunavut want to ban growing weed at home entirely. Dean said most senators he has spoken with want more information about why the government decided to stand firm on home-grows rather than listen to the Senate’s advice.
“I can’t speak for my Conservative colleagues … we may land on different priorities,” said Dean of the current impasse.
“[But] I think that if there’s a common denominator that I sense across the street [in the Senate], it’s the home cultivation issue. That seems to be on everybody’s mind.”
Senators feel they have already compromised on the issue, he added. The amendments proposed linked to home-grows could have been more extensive, but the Senate held back.
Tough week ahead
If Dean and his colleagues decide to reject the government’s newest version of C-45, the bill will likely continue to bounce back and forth until both sides can agree on the identical wording.
The House of Commons is set to rise at the end of next week for the summer, setting the stage for a tense few days on Parliament Hill.
If and when the bill becomes law, it will be another two to three months before marijuana is officially made legal and available in stores.
Dean did seem to suggest there may be room for compromise on the Senate side, where the Independent Senators Group now holds the plurality of seats.
“We can provide advice,” he said. “Governments make decisions.”
Regardless, Dean said, it’s time to forge ahead with legalization in a “limited way and cautionary way” after years of extensive study, consultation and legislative debate.
“I think that this is the right time. We’ll learn as we go, inevitably. We’ll never get it perfectly right, so I’m an advocate of moving sooner rather than later.”
— Watch the full interview with Sen. Tony Dean above.