The House of Commons has voted 205 to 82 in favour of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act.
The bill will now go back to the Senate where the amendments will be further discussed and voted upon. If both Houses can agree on identical versions of the bill, it will receive royal assent.
Should they fail to do so, the bill could continue to volley between the upper and lower houses of the government, with the potential to be passed by the federal government regardless of the Senate’s support.
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The Senate is expected to sit for an extra week, if necessary, in order to resolve the issue before they break for the summer.
Parliament met Monday afternoon to continue the debate, which ran long to the point that the vote had to be delayed until after Question Period. The vote was originally set for Thursday, June 14, but was delayed after a marathon session that lasted well into Friday morning when C-45 talks were stalled by budget conversations.
Current amendments of contention include the federal government’s insistence that provinces allow individuals to grow up to four cannabis plants at home, creating public registries for licensed producers and, whether or not to ban so-called cannabis “swag” and/or branded merchandise.
Conservative MPs came out overwhelmingly against C-45 in a last-ditch attempt to stop the bill from passing.
Conservative Rosemarie Falk deplored the Cannabis Act as “irresponsible legislation,” and claimed that the lack of height restriction on home-grown plants, saying that the bill’s proposed allowance for 4 plants per household could yield “up to 600 grams of weed.” She did not cite the source of this information, although it was later repeated by fellow Tory Ted Falk.
Liberal Adam Vaughn referred to the current “status quo” as “dangerous” and said that regulating cannabis was “responsible and smart,” due to the fact that prohibition “placed [cannabis] in the hands of kids.”
Former Toronto Police chief and current Liberal MP Bill Blair echoed Vaughn’s sentiments, referring to prohibition as “a failed system” that “enriched organized crime” and “targeted vulnerable communities,” stressing the need for a “more effective system.” He also acknowledged the “hard work of the Senate” with regards to their research and scrutiny of C-45.
Conservative Kevin Waugh asked what would happen when the “inevitable” occurred and “7-year-old showed up with weed at school,” eliciting loud groans from Liberal MPs across the aisle, while Tory Stephanie Falk complained that the act would “violate international treaties.”
Conservative Bob Saroya said that he felt the police were “not trained” to deal with legalization, asserting that he “will remain on the right side of the issue.”
This was refuted by Blair, who claimed Canada was “ready” for legalization.
The debate continues at 6 pm ET in the Senate.