Communique #2 – Legislation

October 29, 2018

National Chairperson of Legislation Betty Colaneri, October 26, 2018

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My sisters in the League,

History in the making was witnessed on October 17, 2018, as Canada became the second country in the world to fully legalize the use of marijuana for recreational use with Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. This act amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts. Canadians are now able to purchase a variety of cannabis products from licensed producers or retailers at various retail locations as authorized by the provinces or territories.

Information on the legalization and regulation of cannabis can be found on the Government of Canada website Canada.ca/cannabis. According to the website, the top priority of the Cannabis Act is to better protect the health and safety of Canadians, to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and to keep profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime. It places a new and strict framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada. The act establishes serious criminal penalties for those who sell or provide cannabis to youth under the legal age as well as new offences and strict penalties for those who use youth to commit a cannabis offence. The act also prohibits packaging, labelling and promoting cannabis in a way that makes it appealing to youth and selling it through self-service displays or vending machines.

The Cannabis Act allows adults subject to provincial or territorial restrictions to:
 Consume cannabis in locations authorized by local jurisdictions.
 Possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis in public or share 30 grams of dried legal cannabis with other adults.
 Grow up to four cannabis plants per household (not per person) for personal use by licenses seeds or seedlings from a licensed supplier.
 Make legal cannabis-containing products at home, such as food and drinks, provided that dangerous organic solvents are not used in making them.
Important things you need to know:
 You must be of legal age to buy, possess or use cannabis.
 Cannabis possess several health risks, especially for youth and young adults.
 Cannabis can impair your ability to operate vehicles or equipment safely.
 Drug-impaired driving by cannabis or any other drug remains illegal in Canada.
 Whether you’re leaving or coming to Canada it is illegal to take cannabis across the Canadian border.
 Access to cannabis for medical purposes will continue to individuals who are authorized by their healthcare practitioner.
 Cultivators, producers and packagers of cannabis products are required to obtain a cannabis licence from the Canada Revenue Agency before production and a licence from Health Canada.
 Consumers purchasing cannabis products are responsible for paying the applicable GST/HST.
 Consumers can confirm that they are purchasing legally produced cannabis products by verifying that there is a cannabis excise stamp on their product. There are different colours for each province and territory on product labels.
 The younger you are when you begin cannabis use, the more often and the longer you use it, the bigger the impact on your brain.
 Cannabis use affects the way the brain functions at any age, impacting attention, memory and learning.
 Studies show that cannabis smoke contains many of the same harmful substances as tobacco smoke. It can damage your lungs and can cause bronchitis-like symptoms, coughing and wheezing.
 Law enforcement can currently detect drug-impaired driving using Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert evaluation (DRE).
 On June 21, 2018 new legislation strengthening impaired driving laws came into force making it easier for police officers to detect drug-impaired driving.
 The Royal Canadian Mounted Police developed the “Introduction to Drug Impaired Driving” course enhancing the current SFST curriculum to train officers on the signs and symptoms of drug impairment. As of April 2018, there are over 13,000 trained SFST officers across Canada and 833 certified DREs. It is expected that Canada will train more than 7,000 new SFST officers over the next three years. The RCMP and its provincial partners also have a goal of training approximately 500 additional DRE-certified police officers over the next five years.
 The federal government launched the nationwide “Don’t Drive High” campaign to educate Canadians about the safety and legal risks of drug-impaired driving.
 Cannabis can be addictive and cause serious harm to your health, work, social life, school work and financial future.
 One in three people who use cannabis will develop a problem from using it. Approximately one in 10 people who use cannabis will develop an addiction to it. This statistic changes to one in six for people who started using cannabis as a teenager.

Many resources are available to answer questions, offer advice or give hands-on help. There is a page on the federal governmet website called “Get help with problematic substance use” that lists organizations which can offer assistance. Visit www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-use/get-help/get-help-with-drug-abuse.html for more information.

It is important to be informed, be aware of the signs and know where to go for help.