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QUESTION PERIOD — Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Illegal Production of Cannabis

September 27, 2022

My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Leader, on Monday, La Presse published an excellent investigative report on cannabis production. It quoted a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as saying that, far from having declined since legalization, illegal cannabis production is in fact on the rise. The article also reported that in 2021, U.S. customs seized immense quantities of cannabis, more than 40,000 pounds. In 2018, they seized only 1,600 pounds.

You will surely recall an historic trip that Senator Batters, Senator Boisvenu and I took to the United States in April 2018, during which the U.S. Attorney General raised concerns about the legalization of cannabis and the increase in illegal cannabis production.

One of the methods criminals are using to grow or possess cannabis is to obtain a medical certificate. There are 12,000 medical certificates, but no inspections have been done. Large plants are being subdivided into smaller sites through the use of fake addresses by simply tacking on letters of the alphabet: 30a, 30b, 30c, 30d.

What is the government doing to ensure maximum control over the illegal production of cannabis by organized crime?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for the question. I read the La Presse+ coverage with interest.

As you mentioned, the origin of the problem is the right that Canadians have been granted by our courts to access cannabis for medical purposes. The government has been informed of the situation and is seized with this matter. As for details regarding research conducted by police or other stakeholders, I am not in a position to answer you.

Leader, would you be able to tell us the number of Health Canada inspectors responsible for inspecting licences and facilities for certificates or production certificates in 2018, as well as the number today, in 2022?

Senator Gold [ + ]

I will do my best to get that information and provide it to the chamber.

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