Canadian Government Clarifies Laws Regarding Minors and Weed

In an effort to prevent people from getting criminal records, lawmakers in Canada are reviewing the laws regarding sharing marijuana.
Canadian Government Clarifies Laws Regarding Minors and Weed
Marc St. Gil/ National Archives/ Wikimedia Commons

The Canadian government has clarified the law regarding the social sharing of weed with minors. The Senate voted on Tuesday to approve an amendment to Bill C-45, Canada’s recreational cannabis legalization statute. The proposed law is also known as the Cannabis Act.

The amendment makes it illegal for adults to share marijuana with minors. But in a Senate compromise, young adults who share less than five grams of pot with minors less than two years younger than themselves would only be subject to a summary offense, or, an infraction subject to a ticket from law enforcement. Adults who share more than five grams, or with minors more than two years younger, would be guilty of a crime. Senators approved the amendment by a vote of 42-31.

The amendment is an effort to ensure that young adults who share a joint with 16 or 17-year-olds don’t receive criminal records. In the original version of the bill, anyone 18 and up could not give any amount of cannabis to minors.

However, last week the Senate’s social affairs committee proposed relaxing that restriction for young adults. In that proposal, the committee sought to protect the social sharing of weed by young people.  It did not define social sharing and set no limit on the amount of weed that young people could share.

But some Senators found that restriction not tight enough.

Sen. Frances Lankin, an independent, said that clarifying the amendment is a fix acceptable to the Senate.

“To me, the simplest way of solving this is to actually have a definition of social sharing in the legislation,” said Lankin.

Conservative Sen. Don Plett said that some young adults would take advantage of the committee’s original proposal.

“Make no mistake, colleagues, it will be abused,” he told his colleagues in the Senate.

Plett noted that the law prohibits adults from giving alcohol to minors. He proposed a ticket for those who do the same with cannabis.

“There must be consequences,” he said.

Senate Also Approves Other Amendments

The Senate also approved two additional amendments to Bill C-45 on Tuesday. The first requires all licensed marijuana cultivators to publicly disclose all foreign executives and investors. Senators hope that the provision will prevent organized crime from infiltrating the Canadian cannabis industry. Senators voted in favor of that amendment 45-29.

Another amendment stipulates that police are not required to keep seized cannabis plants alive. The Senate approved that measure by a vote of 39-36.

Senators Set To Make Final Legalization Vote Thursday

So far, the Senate has given its approval to 43 amendments to Bill C-45. Senators could offer even more before they take a final vote on legalization. The Senate has scheduled that vote for Thursday, June 7.

After Senators give their final approval, the bill will return to the House of Commons. That body will have to approve the Senate’s amendments in order for Bill C-45 to become law. Once all that happens, both use and possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana by adults will be legal. The Cannabis Act also legalizes commercial cannabis sales in Canada.

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