Last Thursday, Canada’s Senate held a landmark vote on Bill C-45, Canada’s adult use cannabis legislation. As many expected, the Senate passed the bill, but not before introducing more than 40 amendments to it. Canada’s Liberal-controlled House of Commons, however, did not agree with many of the changes. And on Wednesday, MPs in Canada’s lower chamber rejected more than a dozen amendments they say impose unacceptable limits on the country’s cannabis program.
Is Canada Looking At A Parliamentary Showdown Over Legal Cannabis?
On Wednesday, The House of Commons put forward a motion to vote on sending Bill C-45 back to the Senate. If MPs succeed in sending the bill back to the upper chamber, the Senate will have two choices. It could either accept the House of Commons’ rejection of certain amendments or prepare themselves for a parliamentary showdown.
Indeed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to think a protracted battle in Canada’s parliament is exactly what Conservative senators want.
“Andrew Sheer, the Conservative leader, has been telling his Senate caucus—the senators that he still controls—to play games, to slow this down, to interfere with the will of the House,” Trudeau said.
Some senators pushed back against Trudeau’s remarks. “It’s our constitutional right to maintain our veto and send a bill back to the House,” said Independent leader Sen. Yeun Pau Woo. But Woo also said talk of a political showdown was premature.
Yet the tension between Canada’s Senate, a conservative bastion, and its House of Commons, an elected body representing a Liberal majority, is palpable. And if the House decides to send Bill-45 back, the Senate will have to decide whether or not to defer to the will of a government elected on a platform of legalizing adult-use cannabis.
Amendments Limiting Marijuana Advertising And Home Growing Rejected
Many of the 40-plus amendments the Senate added to Bill C-45 were of a strictly technical or procedural nature. Canada’s House took no issue with accepting those.
Canada’s legal cannabis law gives provinces and territories plenty of room to set their own rules, regulations, and restrictions on the cannabis industry. Many provinces have already passed those laws. And some, like Quebec and Manitoba, opted to ban the home cultivation of cannabis.
One of the amendments the House rejected on Wednesday would have shielded provincial rules from constitutional challenges. In other words, making it impossible for provincial voters to challenge a ban on home cultivation.
Without the Senate amendment, Bill C-45 permits individuals to grow up to four cannabis plants per dwelling. If they choose, provinces can further limit home cultivation. But banning it outright was a step too far for Trudeau’s Liberal government.
Canada’s Pro-Cannabis Politicians Say Home Grows Are “Critically important”
Liberal MPs, along with the country’s Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, argue that home cultivation is a critical component of the legislation. Petitpas Taylor also said it was a matter of consistency. Canadians can brew their own beer and ferment their own wine at home. Some can even grow their own tobacco.
“One of the strong recommendations by experts was that we ensure personal cultivation of four plants at home,” she said. Allowing home grows, experts argue, is key in shutting down the illegal cannabis market.