Updated: Senate approves Cannabis Act with amendments

The Senate has approved on Thursday night  the Cannabis Act or Bill C-45 after making almost four dozen amendments. 

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 56-30 with one abstention, over the objections of Conservative senators who remain resolutely opposed.

The bill will be sent back to the House of Commons after the Senate made its newly-made amendments. Then, it will be up for the House of Commons to decide if it will accept the bill with the changes.  If accepted, the bill will need to receive the ceremonial Royal Assent for final passage.

The passage will pave way to lift Canada’s 95-year-old prohibition on recreational cannabis but the amendments the Senate made might not be entirely accepted by the government.

Most of the amendments were minor. However, there were key changes including one to allow provinces to prohibit home cultivation of cannabis if they choose, rather than accept the – federally permitted – four marijuana plants per dwelling.

On Wednesday, the Senate rejected a series of amendments, mainly targeting the minimum age allowed for Canadians to start legally taking marijuana for recreational use.

Federally, the minimum age is set at 18.

However, two Conservative senators Rose-May Poirier and Denise Batters wanted to increase the minimum age to 21 and 19 respectively.

Some of the amendments proposed on Wednesday were to require the federal government to ensure that at least 20 per cent of cannabis-production licences and permits be for facilities that are on First Nation land.

Others included to make it a crime to smoke cannabis at home if someone is present who is younger than 16 years old.

The amendment called for the minimum age for cannabis use to be raised to 19 failed at 47-29 vote with one abstention.