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Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy
Chair: Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin (QC)
Deputy Chair: Hon. Colin Kenny (ON)
Downloads: Click here
The medical use of marijuana has been permitted under controlled conditions since July 2001. The Committee undertook a comprehensive inquiry into its use in a broader context, including
• Canada’s approach to cannabis, its preparations, derivatives and
similar synthetic preparations;
• effectiveness of this approach, the means used to implement it
and the monitoring of its application;
• related official policies adopted by other countries;
• Canada's international role and obligations in connection with
cannabis under United Nations agreements, conventions and
treaties on narcotics, including the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights; and
• social and health impacts of cannabis and the possible
consequences of different policies.
The report recommends a legalized system under which the production and sale of cannabis would be regulated through licensing. The House of Commons Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs, meanwhile, opted for decriminalization, which was described as the removal of criminal sanctions for certain activities while retaining legal prohibitions.
The report led to numerous bills, none of which were successful. Bill C-10, a government bill introduced in the House of Commons, died on the Order Paper in November 2003 and in May 2004. It was reinstated as Bill C-17, but again died on the Order Paper in November 2004. Another Bill C-17 was referred to a House committee before second reading in the House, but it too died on the Order Paper when an election was called in November 2005.
However, the current government has taken a different approach. In November 2007, it introduced Bill C-26 which proposed harsher punishments for the production of cannabis (up to seven years imprisonment), and for trafficking and possession of more than three kilograms of imarijuana (up to life imprisonment). These changes finally became law in 2012 as part of an omnibus crime bill. Senator Nolin (QC) continued to oppose the bill, quoting the Global Commission on Drug Policy: “The clear path forward to best control cannabis in Canada and other jurisdictions throughout the world is to move away from failed law enforcement strategies and to pursue a public health approach aimed also at undermining the root causes of organized crime.”
A national poll conducted in June 2012 revealed that two-thirds of Canadians favour decriminalizing marijuana. In the meantime, the Cannabis report continues to be one of the Senate's most popular publications. It has been downloaded over 49,000 times since 2006.