Canada's Original Think Tank

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

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

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

Hon. Art Eggleton: 

At the Social Affairs Committee, the Conservative caucus argued, “How could we ever monitor the number of plants?” They were arguing against having any plants at all — the four plants. They wondered how it can possibly be monitored. How are the police going to be able to do it?

Now they’re putting forward a proposal that’s even more complicated in terms of how you could possibly monitor this situation. The expert we had in front of the committee, Professor Jonathan Page of the University of British Columbia, said yes, it would be 65 to 85 grams on average, but some plants actually yield up to 200 grams. Four plants, 200 grams? That’s way over what you’re suggesting they should be allowed to have.

You don’t know the yield until after the harvest, so what do you do? Do you bring in the harvest police at that time to figure out how much it is?

I don’t think this is something we need to worry about in terms of the criminality of trying to market or traffic this stuff. We don’t put a limit on the amount of alcohol someone has in the home. It is a very dangerous drug as well and has caused an awful lot of damage and destruction. Still, we leave it up to adults to work out what is reasonable to do. So we put no limits on how much you can store in your home in terms of alcohol, but this one becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to actually police.

This is just not possible to police. What would you do if you were over the limit? How would you dispose of it? That is another question.

I don’t want that to happen any more than you do, but what the police have been able to do in the past is find the grow ops because they drain a lot of electricity and water. The police have figured out ways of detecting and policing those kinds of illegal operations.

This is not what this amendment is about. This one is about somebody that happens to grow a little bit more than what they should, and if you put this 340-gram limit on it, some people will end up harvesting more than that because they might have a particularly productive plant and it goes over the limit.

I don’t think that’s what we need here at all. I think the provisions in this bill are quite fine the way they are, so I will not be supporting the amendment.

The Hon. the Speaker: Would you take a question, Senator Eggleton?

Senator Eggleton: Sure.

Hon. Vernon White: There is one difference with alcohol, in that you’re not limited as to how much alcohol you can buy, but you are limited under Bill C-45, if it passes as is, to four plants. So we should at least have a discussion about how much yield you would get from four plants, because that is the difference when we compare it to alcohol. You can’t limit how much someone has in their house, but the truth is we’re already limiting people and telling them four plants only. If you’re allowed four plants, then there needs to be a measured amount of dried cannabis, and 340 grams, from speaking to experts, is about what you should anticipate you could yield from four plants.

Would you agree that there is a difference between alcohol and cannabis?

Senator Eggleton: Certainly there is a difference in how you count it, but I think the principle is that we allow adults to make their own decisions about what is, in fact, a reasonable quantity to have for their own personal use within their home. We do that with alcohol, and I think it’s reasonable to do in this case.

If people go overboard and if they’re starting to produce it for trafficking purposes and they’re getting into the realm of a grow op, then that is illegal, and it should be clamped down on.

Senator White: I understand that concern. But the adults that we will be concerned with are the Hells Angels and others in organized crime who will be stockpiling marijuana and cannabis product for distribution. You could have 200 pounds of cannabis in your residence. I would argue that we need to have a limitation that goes in line with what the legislation is meant to do, which is recreational cannabis use. With 340 grams, we’re talking about 450 joints. I think it is more than enough for most people I know. Do you not agree?

Senator Eggleton: Sorry, I’m afraid not. I do appreciate the point you’re making, though.

I think it is far more difficult to deal with this. We’re dealing with home cultivation. Home cultivation is intended for personal use. It’s not intended for distribution. That is illegal. Trafficking is illegal under this bill, as it has always been and will continue to be. If the Hells Angels want to stash it for purposes of distribution, the police will go in to stop that.

Senator White: I understand that perfectly. I think I’m trying to get to the point of what is the number. Do you have a number for us? If you do, throw it out. Is it 500 grams or a kilo? Because now you’re saying it’s unlimited.

Senator Eggleton: I don’t understand why this is being raised now. I think the legislation covers this. This matter was not raised at committee. The only argument that was made at committee was whether there should be four plants or no plants. We ultimately decided that the provinces should have the right to determine whether it’s no plants at all. Before the amendment from committee, it could be four, three, two, one, but it couldn’t be zero. Now it can be zero because Quebec and Manitoba want it to be zero. There was never any question about this particular factor, and I think the legislation handles it. You should have brought it up at committee.