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QUESTION PERIOD — Public Safety

Illegal Production of Cannabis

October 20, 2022


My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. The Cannabis Council of Canada estimates that the black market continues to represent at least 50% of cannabis sales in this country. According to the council, the black market for cannabis is still flourishing four years after cannabis was legalized in Canada. The industry’s viability is at risk. Apparently, nearly all Canadian cannabis producers are operating at a deficit or are on the verge of bankruptcy.

In short, the Cannabis Council of Canada asserts that the Trudeau government’s legalization of cannabis did not achieve the three main objectives because young people still have access to it on the black market, the quality of black market products doesn’t protect Canadians’ health, and organized crime continues to profit. As we saw last week, cross-border smuggling, particularly in the United States, is at record levels.

The opposition raised these four issues when the cannabis legalization bill was being studied. Senator Gold, will you admit that we were right?

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

Thank you for the question. No, you weren’t right. It is true that legalizing cannabis didn’t put an immediate end to the entire illegal, underground industry. It was always anticipated that it would take some time for Canadians who use cannabis to make the shift from the illegal market to legal sources.

It is also true that some cannabis producers may have been a little too optimistic about the profits that awaited them following legalization. It’s unfortunate that so many of them are struggling, but that is a risk that all entrepreneurs take when they start a business in a new industry.

For all these reasons, I wouldn’t agree that the opposition was right, on the contrary. The government was right to stop criminalizing production, and it was also right to legalize cannabis use in order to protect Canadians who want to purchase legal products and reduce the stigma for those who had no choice but to purchase it on the illegal market.

Now that we see the disaster caused by the Trudeau government’s legalization of cannabis looming on the horizon, what does the government plan on doing to reduce youth’s access to cannabis products, improve Canadians’ health, prevent criminals from pocketing profits and stop drug trafficking?

Senator Gold [ - ]

The federal government is working at the border to prevent the flow of drugs in both directions. Provincial authorities chose to legislate different minimum ages for the legal purchase of cannabis.

The Canadian government and its partners in public health will continue to inform Canadians about healthy and safe ways to use cannabis.

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