The government’s cannabis legalization bill is expected to make its way back to the House of Commons next week, according to House Leader Bardish Chagger.
In a response to a question from the opposition House leader today, Chagger said the government plans to bring Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, before the House for report stage next Wednesday, November 1. Report stage allows the House to again consider the bill as a whole with input and consideration from the House Standing Committee on Health, and also suggest new amendments prior to the third reading of the bill.
If and when the bill passes third reading in the House of Commons, it will then be sent to the Senate where it will repeat the same process of readings and committee hearings before having a chance at becoming law.
The impaired driving bill, C-46, which is seen as a companion to the Cannabis Act, just completed report stage this week and is expected to begin debate at third reading in the House on Friday Oct 27. Report stage for Bill C-46 was completed during the course of three days of the House meeting.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May presented two motions to amend C-46 at report stage but both failed to gain a majority of votes. With the Liberals controlling 181 seats in the House, the motion to end the reporting stage of C-46 easily passed with a vote of 174-120. All conservatives present and all but one NDP member, Kennedy Stewart, Burnaby South voted against and the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois voted for (one member of the Bloc, Luc Thériault, abstained, along with Liberal Gudie Hutchings).
Even after passing third reading in the House, both bills will have to make their way through a similar process in the Senate, before having the opportunity to receive Royal Assent and become law. While the Liberals have a solid majority in the house, they have less control over the Senate, which is known as a more 'sober second thought' and less controlled by political parties.The NDP's Don Davies, who was his party's voice on the Standing Health Committee when discussing Bill C-45, stated previously that the NDP was unsure if they would consider any new motions to amend the bill. Any Notices of Motions must be presented by Tuesday to be considered on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Davies presented numerous proposed amendments in the Health Committee as well, although none were supported by a majority of the committee, which is controlled by a Liberal majority.May has also put one notice of motion forward to suggest an amendment to C-45, calling for the removal of Clause 9 of the bill, which deals with distribution and associated penalties for those distributing outside the regulations. No other notices have been posted yet. Notices of Motions must be posted one day prior to the bill being presented in the House.
In addition to the Cannabis Act, the actual regulations that will fill out the law still have to make their way through an open consultation process that can take several months. The Government has stated a goal of having legalization in place by July 2018.
Featured image by Paul Van Der Werf.