• John Jantak

Questions and answers regarding upcoming marijuana legislation


Federal MPs Joël Lightbound (St. Hubert) and Peter Schiefke (Vaudreuil-Soulanges) field questions from the public during a town hall forum Tuesday evening in Vaudreuil-Dorion to discuss the legalization of marijuana which will take effect on July 1, 2018.

A full range of issues from how tenants and condo owners should deal with odours from marijuana plants and smoke emanating from neighbouring units, the legal implications of driving while high, and which level of government will monitor the agricultural production of pot were raised during an open public forum in Vaudreuil-Dorion on Tuesday, August 22.

More than 80 people attended the session which was hosted by Vaudreuil-Soulanges federal Member of Parliament (MP) and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Youth, Peter Schiefke; and Louis Hébert riding MP Joël Lightbound, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health.

The federal government introduced Bills C-45 and C-46 in April that is expected to legalize marijuana in Canada by next July, but allow each province to legislate how it will be controlled within their own borders. The bills will also amend specific aspects of the federal criminal code to provide penalties for operating a motor vehicle while impaired.

The primary purpose of the legalization is to take marijuana trafficking away from criminal elements and to reduce its availability to teens which has been determined to have detrimental effects on their brain development according to recent scientific research, said Schiefke.

“The health and safety of all Canadians is of primary importance to our government, especially that of our children and young adults. Our legislation will strengthen existing drug-impaired driving laws and create stricter penalties for selling cannabis products to anyone under 18,”’ said Schiefke.

Among the many other challenges the government faces will be to determine the price that legal marijuana should be sold for which will be essential in order to dissuade people from selling illegal pot, Schiefke said.

One attendee expressed his concerns that the smell from plants and smoke could infiltrate into neighbouring apartment and condo units especially in multi-unit buildings and adversely impact non-users’ health and living conditions.

Neither Schiefke nor Lightbound was able to provide specific recommendations on how such a situation should be dealt with, saying it will be up to each province and municipality to enact legislation and pass by-laws specific to their individual requirements.

Another attendee asked whether law enforcement agencies will be able to accurately determine the state of a person’s impairment, especially since THC residue from marijuana can be found in fat tissue days or weeks after ingestion, especially among heavy users.

Both MPs were again unable to provide a clear answer – which they said was the purpose for the public forum – to gather as much information in order to make sure the federal legislation is as complete as possible.

St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo also took to the podium to raise concerns regarding which level of government will be responsible for the authorization of permits that will allow the cultivation of marijuana on agricultural land.

“The town will have to justify its approval to the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ) but this is a federal matter. We don’t know whether we’re going to have to address the provincial requirements from Agriculture Canada or will we be bound by the federal statutes,” Grimaudo told Your Local Journal.