This week, Canada’s standing committee on health voted to amend Bill C-45, the bill that will eventually legalize cannabis across Canada.
The two amendments started with the inclusion of edibles no later than 12 months after legalization has been enacted next July. The second modification was the dismissal of the 100-cm height limit on the four plants Canadians will be allowed to grow at home.
“I had 37 different amendments and most of those were shot down by the government,” said NDP health critic and a vice chair of the standing committee Don Davies, in an interview with Marijuana.com. Davies did stress to the committee the need for those two amendments that were ultimately adopted.
Davies stated that the removal of height restrictions on home-grown plants was based upon testimony from botanists and others with experience growing cannabis. “There was absolutely no compelling reason to justify a 100-cm limit,” he said.
Further, on the issue of height restrictions, nobody could explain why this seemingly arbitrary number was there in the first place. “One of the arguments made by the Ministry of Justice was that it was to control the yield of the plant, on the flawed and mistaken assumption that the higher the plant, the greater the yield.”
Davies added that because people are growing marijuana on private property, it will be very difficult for police to enforce the rule. “As one of the witnesses said, you don’t want to criminalize gardening. Don’t make our police officers have to carry yardsticks.”
As for the amendment to allow edibles, Davies is disappointed that the government has opted for a 12-month period to enact legislation after cannabis is legalized. “The evidence was simply overwhelming that edibles, concentrates, and non-smokable forms of cannabis ought to be legalized for sale, and regulated now. There are a dozen reasons why you would and zero reasons why you wouldn’t. That is why it is frustrating and incomprehensible to see the Liberals not move on that,” added Davies.
Davies believes that Canada can usher in edibles now, based on the research the government has gained from American states that have legalized cannabis. “Colorado has mature, well thought out regulations on edibles that we could simply adopt almost completely.”
Further to those changes, Davies tried to table a number of amendments to the bill. One of those amendments was an attempt to change the various criminal penalties, like replacing the potential 14-year sentence for giving marijuana to a minor with fines.
Davies also suggested that the government remove the 30-gram public possession limit. “I don’t know why you are a law-abiding citizen if you have 29 grams of cannabis, but you are a criminal subject to 14 years in prison if you have 31 grams. If you grow four plants at home, you could be in possession of 400-500 grams, so why are you a criminal if you walk out the door with 45 grams?”
Davies also suggested to the committee some extraneous circumstances that could inadvertently make someone a criminal. “Let’s say you have four plants in your apartment, you harvest them and you’ve got 300 grams of cannabis, and you move. What do you do, make 10 trips in your car?”
Marijuana.com attempted to contact Liberal Party members for the standing committee on health but they were unavailable for comment at this time.