In the last campaign I talked about the need to bring back “politics in full sentences”. Our country was long overdue for a full, thoughtful, and honest conversation about the need to end the criminalization of cannabis and to discuss what a safe, thoroughly regulated market for cannabis would look like.
Our government has kept its promise and tabled legislation to legalize AND regulate cannabis, while protecting children from illegal drug sales, protecting our roads, taking money out of the hands of criminals, and educating the public so that they can make the best decisions for their health.
If passed, this new law will allow for the sale of cannabis to individuals over the age of 18 by July of 2018. Where cannabis is sold will be up to individual provinces to regulate, just like they do with the sale of alcohol and tobacco. Provinces will also be able to set a minimum age for purchasing cannabis that is higher than 18 if they choose. In terms of importance, nothing supersedes the health and safety of Canadians, especially our kids. Our government is committed to protecting young Canadians, and the proposed law seeks to prevent youth from using cannabis as one of its foremost aims.
Giving or selling cannabis to a youth will become a criminal offense, if the law is passed. Additionally, the law would prohibit forms of promoting, packaging, and labeling cannabis that appeal to youth, as is the case already with alcohol and tobacco. In its commitment to protecting young Canadians, our government also seeks to avoid criminalizing youth and subjecting them to the lifelong consequences of a criminal record. Further to the interest of youth safety, the new law would be complemented by a public education and awareness campaign to inform Canadians, young and old, about the risks and harms accompanying cannabis use, and in Budget 2017, our government already committed $9.6 million over five years to this comprehensive campaign.
In terms of public safety more broadly, our government is committed to ensuring that there is a safe, legal, and controlled supply of cannabis available for sale. Any sale, possession, production, and distribution outside of the strict national framework under the new Act would remain illegal. We have also introduced Bill C-46, to overhaul our impaired-driving regulations to ensure law enforcement has the proper tools to prevent people from driving under the influence of cannabis. If passed, Bill C-46 will be one of the strongest impaired-driving pieces of legislation in the world. Ensuring that we continue to have safety on our highways and roads is of paramount importance.
I am proud to be part of a government that has taken an evidence-based approach to cannabis legislation. We know there’s a lot of work left to do, and we will continue to engage with provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, and local communities to make sure we get this right.