Canada's Original Think Tank

Third reading of Bill C-45, Cannabis Bill (debate on amendment by Senator White)

Third reading of Bill C-45, Cannabis Bill (debate on amendment by Senator White)

Third reading of Bill C-45, Cannabis Bill (debate on amendment by Senator White)

Hon. Art Eggleton: 

Honourable senators, I, like Senator Pratte, have views that see this not so much as a black and white situation. In fact, I have reservations about this matter of home cultivation. It might have been better to leave this aspect for another year and address it at the same time as edibles to give us more time to see how the first part of this goes into effect.

But what the committee came to a decision on is a reasonable compromise, and I intend to support it. And that is that we allow the provinces to determine what is best for their regions, what is best for the people in their part of the country. They will have that opportunity through the amendment that we put into the bill.

With respect to this specific amendment, the proponents of the amendment have drawn on the testimony of different witnesses. Witnesses, by and large, by the way, that they proposed appear before the committee. So they obviously heard what they wanted to hear from the witnesses that they proposed.

There is another side to the coin, and I think you will hear this throughout this debate for the next week. People will draw on the witnesses they want to draw on, and I will do the same thing, but I will tell you in the context of what we heard in the committee, which is a different point of view.

We had, for example, on the question of mould and the question of children, which I heard coming in the proponents of the motion, we also had another expert witness, in addition to the ones they mentioned, Jonathan Page, who is an adjunct professor in the Department of Botany of the University of British Columbia. He has spent his scientific career deciphering the genetic and biochemical secrets of medical plants. He addressed this issue of mould and humidity and environmental concerns, understanding that some of that is true when it comes to illicit grow-ops that have existed. And they are illicit, and they have been tackled by police forces across our country. They have, in fact, been closing them down.

When it comes to this question of four plants or less, it’s interesting what he said:

In terms of moisture, having a shower without the fan on, in a basement, over a period of time, will probably put more moisture into a home than four plants that are just watered judiciously in regular pots.

My house has more than that nine square feet just of regular orchids that my wife really likes. In terms of the moisture coming out of those plants, I’m sure that boiling a pot of spaghetti in the kitchen is generating more moisture. So I don’t think we can fear monger based on some of the horror stories around illicit grow ops when we’re talking about four-plant-limit personal cultivation.

He went on to talk about the issue of children, saying, quite clearly, that children are not going to get high by eating a plant. You have got to heat it. You have to prepare the plant in a way that makes its THC a product that you would be consuming. But if a child happens to nibble at a plant itself, absolutely nothing, he quickly pointed out, would happen. In fact, the child would probably find it quite repulsive because it really is a very bad taste.

I wanted to put those things on the table because we should not mix it up with the old grow ops. We should not, in fact, hear just one side of the story in terms of what expert witnesses came and told our committee. We heard a variety of stories, and sometimes it created a problem of who to believe. You have experts on both sides. But I think since you’re going to hear one side of the story from the proponents of this, I wanted to make sure you heard from the other side.

I think it’s also fair to point out that in condominiums and apartment buildings, the owners will have some control over that. Certainly, I know of many condominium buildings that have been asking me about it; they plan to ban the product happening in their buildings. I think we can get this under control, and I think the compromise the committee came to is a reasonable one to follow. Let the provinces determine it, like Quebec and Manitoba, who said they want to go down to zero, and that’s fine. Let them do that, and any other province can do it as well.