Around 10 million Canadians won’t be able to grow cannabis at home if Trudeau doesn’t push the House to reject certain amendments of Bill C-45.
The Canadian Senate has finished the third reading of the Cannabis act and suggested around 40 amendments.
The bill has been sent back to the House of Commons which will soon vote on the last set of amendments. The day of the vote hasn’t been determined yet.
Perhaps the most important amendment suggested by the Senate during the last hearing was one which would allow provinces to bring their own laws, which would regulate homegrown cannabis.
Freedom for people or provinces?
Two provinces, Quebec and Manitoba, have already set up their frameworks in such a way that growing cannabis at home won’t be allowed at all.
If this amendment passes, every province will have the power to decide whether it wants to allow residents to grow cannabis in their households.
If this amendment is rejected by the House, provinces will not have the power to make that decision and will be forced, by federal laws, to allow residents to grow up to 4 plants per household.
In that case, provinces will only have the power to limit places and ways in which Canadians can grow cannabis in their home, but ultimately won’t be able to forbid it to anyone.
Trudeau and his government rejected the Senate’s key amendment on Wednesday, citing recommendations by experts as the main reason not to allow provinces the right to ban growing at home.
“We’re making the changes to keep Canadians safe and one of the strong recommendations by experts was that we ensure personal cultivation of four plants at home,” Trudeau told reporters. “We have heard what the senators had to say on this matter, but we will go ahead with the recommendations from experts.“
This comes as a surprise, especially as the Liberals have the majority in both the Senate and House of Commons.
Throughout history, the Senate has been recognized as the protector of provincial governments by giving them the power to decide for themselves.
It is unorthodox that the House rejects amendments from the Senate when the same party holds a majority in both, but in this particular case, if the House were to pass a bill which would give provinces the power to forbid home growing, Trudeau would go against his election promises.
Tradition tells us that the Senate will ultimately bow down to the House and pass laws, especially ones that fulfill an election promise.
Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said that Bill C-45 needs to be in accordance with laws dealing with alcohol and tobacco, not even to mention medical marijuana.
“Canadians can grow their own tobacco and make their own beer and wine at home. … People can already grow cannabis for medical purposes. We think it is logical for the proposed legislation to be consistent when it comes to recreational cannabis,” she told reporters.
She also added that the provinces don’t need additional power to ban users from growing cannabis at home when they already have the power to allow residents only to grow a single plant per household.
If the amendment that gives provinces power to forbid growing cannabis at home is not passed, Trudeau and the federal government may have a legal battle with Quebec and Manitoba waiting for them in the future.