Feds celebrate passage of legal marijuana bill, but questions around home grow linger
Three smiling members of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal caucus were on hand Wednesday morning to mark the passage of what they called a “transformative” piece of legislation legalizing marijuana in Canada.
But the celebration — led by Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Parliamentary Secretary Bill Blair and Justice Minister Jody Wilson Raybould — was overshadowed by lingering questions about what will happen in jurisdictions like Quebec, Manitoba and Nunavut, where growing weed in your home is expected to be against provincial or territorial law.
WATCH: Senate passes marijuana legalization bill
The federal bill (C-45) passed on Tuesday night allows for four home-grown plants per Canadian household, something that Wilson Raybould reiterated would be applied across the country once the law comes into force.
That hasn’t happened yet, she reminded the public, and marijuana is not expected to be legal in Canada until late August or early September.
When asked which rules surrounding home grows Quebecers, Manitobans and residents of Nunavut should follow once legalization is a reality, the minister would not provide a clear answer.
“The Quebec law and the one in Manitoba speak about zero cultivation,” she said. “It is not the intent of the federal government to challenge provincial laws. … However, there may arise a challenge by an individual.”
Her comments seemed to suggest that Ottawa does not expect that the provincial regulations will hold up in court if an individual from one of those jurisdictions fought for the right to grow marijuana at home. Both Quebec and Manitoba have said they believe that they have jurisdiction and will test that in court if necessary.
Meanwhile, provinces and municipalities have been promised eight to 12 weeks for their final preparations.
Wilson Raybould said a firm date for the removal of Canada’s near century-old cannabis prohibition would be coming very soon. Reports suggest that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may announce that date during a press conference at 4:30 p.m. ET. Global News will be carrying the event live.
WATCH: Senators react after voting to pass legislation to legalize pot in Canada
Blair also addressed the question of amnesty for Canadians who have criminal records involving possession of a small amount of marijuana. He said that “any discussion of these records can’t take place” until Bill C-46 — the government’s separate legislation dealing with drug-impaired driving — passes the Senate and receives royal assent.
That may not happen until the fall session. Wilson Raybould, meanwhile, said she considers the matter to be under the purview of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
“The minister and I have had conversations about this,” she said, adding that right now “the focus is on the coming into force of the act.“
WATCH: Federal government punts decision on home pot cultivation to the provinces.
Conservatives still have concerns
On her way into caucus on Wednesday morning, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel initially didn’t have much comment to offer about the passage of the bill the night before.
“I guess it passed. There’s my thoughts,” Rempel said.
Pressed by reporters, however, she said she still has plenty of concerns surrounding how the government is going to implement its new framework, and whether the provinces and municipalities are being properly supported by Ottawa.
“I still have concerns around the lack of research around at what age (marijuana) usage has a detrimental effect on our youth,” Rempel added. “There’s a lot of details with regards to implementation that were missed by this bill.”
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