Commons committee studying marijuana legislation to hear from Colorado

Commons committee studying marijuana legislation to hear from Colorado
credit:Dagga Magazine

Police chiefs and officials from Colorado and Washington are set to field questions today from the House of Commons health committee studying the government’s legislation that will legalize recreational marijuana.

The committee is holding five full days of uninterrupted hearings.

On Monday, MPs heard from Anne McLellan, the former chair of the government’s task force on marijuana legalization, as well as senior government officials, cannabis industry representatives, and police. Effectively combating organized crime and the illicit market dominated day one of hearings.

Nova Scotia Liberal MP Bill Casey, the committee chair, said he’s concerned about the contamination of cannabis growing facilities, the four-plant personal allowance rule and the minimum 18-year age of access.

“We have a lot to learn and a lot to listen to,” he told CBC News.

NDP MP Don Davies, vice-chair of the health committee, has accused the Liberals of rushing the hearings process, “cramming” in witnesses to dilute parliamentary and public engagement and debate around flawed legislation.

“I’m concerned they’re trying to rip the bandage off and move to the next stage without getting really varied and diverse input from Canadians,” he said.

Along with the witness hearings, the health committee has also received 99 written submissions.

The Canadian Medical Association repeated its concerns about health risks associated with cannabis, particularly in its smoked form. It urged the government to set the legal age at 21.

Casey said the committee will likely make recommendations on how to improve and strengthen the legislation, and he did not rule out changing the age limit. The government has vowed to legalize the drug by July 1, 2018.

Last week, Ontario became the first province to announce a framework for the sale and consumption of marijuana, which includes 150 stand-alone stores by 2020 and an online ordering service. The legal age for cannabis use in Ontario will be 19.