The Senate voted 52 to 29 on Tuesday, June 19 in favour of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. There were 2 abstentions.
The bill is now headed for royal assent later this week, after which it becomes law.
Independent Senator Peter Harder’s motion that “would have the Senate not insist on Senate amendments to Bill C-45 to which the House of Commons did not agree” was adopted after two days of debate in the Senate.
On Monday, the House of Commons voted 205 to 82 in favour of Bill C-45. The vote was originally set for Thursday, but delayed until Monday when Thursday’s budget discussions stalled Cannabis Act talks.
The main point of contention was with regard to the House of Commons-rejected Senate amendment to allow provinces the jurisdiction to ban the home cultivation of cannabis.
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Conservative Senator Claude Carignan put forth an amendment to Senator Harder’s motion to have the Senate “insist on its amendment to allow provinces and territories to ban homegrown cannabis.” The amendment was supported by several senators including fellow PC Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, who cited what he felt was the importance of protecting the jurisdiction of provinces with regard to home cultivation. The amendment was defeated.
Provinces like Quebec, Nunavut and Manitoba have stated their intent to ban home growing. Current federal rules will allow provinces to set limits on the number of plants (between 1 and 4) but will not allow provinces to ban home cultivation outright. The provinces who want a ban are expected to take their battle to the courts sometime in the future.
Conservative Senator Yonah Martin expressed concerns about members of the Canadian Military getting high, albeit acknowledging that the criminalization of cannabis has not worked for Canada.
“All the work we did has been in vain” if the Senate passes the motion without sticking to the Senate’s previous amendments, stated Martin.
Liberal Senator Jim Munson read a poem in support of passing the bill, while Senators Tkachuk and Housakos took their time to blast legalization and decry what it would mean to the children of Canada.
Although C-45 has been passed, implementation will still take 8 to twelve weeks, so it is unlikely that Canadians will be able to legally purchase cannabis until September at the earliest.