Senate committee asks for cannabis legalization to be delayed by one year

May 2 2018, 4:52 pm

Citing a lack of “meaningful consultation” with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, a senate committee report is asking the Canadian government to delay cannabis legalization (Bill C-45) for another year.

“Many Indigenous communities and organizations informed the Committee that they were
not consulted on the subject matter of the bill,” the report read.

And while it added that the committee held five meetings and heard from a diverse group of witnesses which included six Indigenous organizations, four First Nations, three regional Indigenous organizations, two Inuit Elders, “representatives of Indigenous organizations who appeared before the committee stressed that consultation to date was inadequate.”

The report also raised concerns that the public is not aware of the specifics of the legislative
approach taken to legalize cannabis.

“People will hear that marijuana is legal,” said a statement from Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services, which serves 49 First Nations in northern Ontario.

“We know that the average person on the street, that’s all they will hear. We will have people who will be growing it and distributing it without understanding the law.”

Without any education, “they are not going to realize that there are all these rules and regulations that you could have four plants, only you can’t sell it. You have to be licensed. It’s going to result in more criminalization, quite frankly.”

In light of all this, the report is asking for the delay on the bill’s implementation so that a proper consultation with all concerned groups can take place.

Specifically, it would like First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, and the Government of Canada to negotiate and agree on a number of deliverables, which include:

  • Implementation of appropriate excise tax collection and sharing
    measures from revenue generated by cannabis produced on First
    Nations lands
  • Culturally specific and linguistically appropriate education materials
    and programs
  • Recognition and affirmation of the principle that communities have
    the right to enact legislative and regulatory responses to the
    proposed legalization of cannabis
  • Substantial funding increases on an urgent basis, given the
    intergenerational trauma present in Indigenous communities, for
    mental health and addictions programs, residential treatment
    centres, nursing services, traditional healing centres, and police
    services that serve Indigenous people and communities
  • Establishment of residential addictions treatment centres that are
    culturally and linguistically appropriate and in the vicinity of
    Indigenous communities
  • Prescribing that the Minister of Health reserve at least 20% of all cannabis production licenses for producers on lands under the jurisdiction or ownership of Indigenous governments

Earlier this year, Bill C-45 was brought to the Senate for the vote on a second reading.

It was passed by a vote of 44 in favour and 29 people opposed.

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