Original cannabis journalism for Canadians

Senate to get 'outside-in perspective' on cannabis

The Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples held its first hearing on The Cannabis Act on Tuesday, and heard about cannabis legalization from a series of high-ranking civil servants. (Senate of Canada)

The Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples held its first hearing on The Cannabis Act on Tuesday, and heard about cannabis legalization from a series of high-ranking civil servants. (Senate of Canada)

As The Leaf News has documented, Senate debate over The Cannabis Act has been marked, in part, by shades of reefer madness.

But independent Senator Tony Dean, who's sponsoring the bill in the Red Chamber, sounds optimistic that the Senate will be increasingly informed by facts as the bill moves into Senate committees for in-depth examination.

"What I glean from the first couple of weeks of debate is that that we've started to surface some of the bigger issues, the more important issues, and issues that people are either concerned about or need some more information on," Dean said in a Thursday phone interview.

"There is, on the part of a number of senators, a continued discourse about, 'We're rushing it, we're rushing it,'" said Dean.

"I would just remind them that in Canada we have almost a decade of experience with the effective production and distribution of medical cannabis. We're a world leader in that, this isn't a cold start. The Conservatives should know better than anybody else, since it was under their watch that the medical program was introduced, and improved at the time."

Different senators, said Dean, have different ideas about their duties as they relate to cannabis legalization.

"There are some who just want to be sure that we get this right. There are some who have outstanding questions. There are some who bring a moral perspective to this."

Others have more partisan motivations, he said, like damaging "a signature government initiative."

So far, Senate debate over Bill C-45 has been just that: debate between individual senators, informed by their own research and personal beliefs. But those senators are starting to hear more perspectives on legalization from the outside world.

The Cannabis Act will be scrutinized by five separate Senate committees: Aboriginal Peoples, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Legal and Constitutional Affairs, National Security and Defence, and Social Affairs, Science and Technology. (The Aboriginal Peoples committee kicked things off on Tuesday.)

Those committees, Dean said, "are going to be hearing from younger Canadians, we are going to be hearing from scientists, from their own perspectives."

"We're going to get an outside-in perspective on this," Dean continued.

"This place can be a bit of a bubble, and what I love about the committee process here is that it is even-handed. On any issue that I've seen addressed by a committee, we have people on all sides of an issue."

Canadians who want to keep an eye on those committee hearings can watch them online via the Senate's cannabis legalization webpage. It's not quite Netflix, but it's definitely Canadian content.


New on The Leaf

  • Highlights from the Senate floor: What's got Senators worried about cannabis legalization this week? We pulled out some tasty news nuggets from Tuesday's debate.
  • Consequences for illegal cultivation: Dear Herb helps Manitobans and Quebeckers understand the possible legal risks of recreational cannabis growing after legalization.
  • Special delivery: How do you get weed and other contraband into a U.S. prison? Your friendly neighbourhood milkman, of course. (The real news here is that "milkman" is still a job title in 2018.)

Elsewhere on the Weed Wide Web

  • Canna-moms: Cannabis is challenging Chardonnay for the title of "mommy's little helper," writes Lindsey Hunter Lopez for The Atlantic.
  • Big listing for big weed: Canopy Growth Corp. wants to be the second Canadian cannabis producer to list on the U.S. Nasdaq exchange, reports Vanmala Subramaniam for VICE News.
  • Female cannabis leaders: Matthew Black of CBC News in B.C. explores how west-coast women are breaking down barriers in the canna-biz.

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