Marijuana legalization hits a wall as Conservative Senators challenge bills to legalize cannabis consumption and toughen rules against abuse.
Canadians with hopes to purchase legal marijuana by July 1st may have to wait even longer. As expected, Conservatives strongly oppose the passage of two bills focused on marijuana legalization. If the senators stand their ground, the Canada Day deadline will be an unlikely timeline for the bills to become law. Conservative Senator Claude Carignan says that the decision to stall the bills was made in order for the government to “do their job properly.” How long are they stalling exactly?
“The House took eight months to study. It will probably take the same timeline to do our job properly.”
Who Suffers More from a Delay in Marijuana Legalization?
With off-time coming in the summer, a delay like this would push approval to the end of 2018 at the minimum. The delay would mean serious costs for both businesses and government. Provinces are negotiating contracts with suppliers who have invested heavily in production. Storefronts are being signed away for potential locations. Additionally, police are purchasing equipment and training their officers to deal with pot-impaired drivers.
But, Senator Carignan says businesses take a risk if they choose to adopt a plan without legalization in place. Carignan recommends a methodical approach and for companies to stray away from unusual business risk. The question is: who will suffer more politically if the plan is delayed? The Liberals for bandwagoning on the popularity of recreational use? Or the Conservatives for delaying a bill that many see as inevitable? Either way, officials outside of the conservative party see this as an attempt to throw a wrench in a running engine. Frustrated Senator Frances Lankin says,
“This is the old system going on. This is the opposition trying to throw a spanner into the works of the government.”
Senators Will Debate at the End of January
At the end of January, Senators will start the debate of Bill C-45 and C-46. Carignan believes these bills fail to cover major issues such as drug tests for workers, equipment and training for police forces, and the impact of legalization on young people. All of these require a Conservative study.
In the coming months, the Senate will be heavily scrutinized. Some feel Conservatives are delaying for the sake of delaying and the Tories will certainly face pressure to justify their decision. The independents will look to rally to push the bills through.
Currently, there are 11 Senate vacancies. With the opposition lining up ready to oppose, Trudeau should look to fill those vacancies with supporters of the bills without delay.