The Senate of Canada scheduled to address aspects of cannabis legalization, Jan 31

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Courtesy of Lift Magazine

The Senate of Canada will is scheduled to address questions in relation to cannabis legalization Tuesday, January 31. The discussion is in response to questions raised last December by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., QC, who asked a series of questions about legalization, including looking at the costs associated with legalizing, issues with impaired driving, and who the government has been consulting with on the subject thus far.

Asked on Dec 14, 2016, one day after the public release of the Task Force’s recommendations on the subject, many of the questions are addressed or answered in the Task Force report. The extensive report specifically refers to issues like impaired driving and the research behind these issues, as well as the groups, public organizations, individuals, and governments asked to be consulted on the various aspects of legalization.

Carignan’s more specific questions in regard to cost projections associated with legalization are interesting and important questions to raise, but will be difficult to answer with any certainty for some time. Asking for specific a “breakdown of costs estimated by the government for each of the first three years” in various aspects like health care and justice and safety are tall orders for any immediate consideration.

“In my home province, in the Lower Mainland there are many illegal marijuana shops, medical marijuana shops. I see them everywhere I go. They are quite visible on every main street that I drive in Vancouver, and it’s actually quite shocking where some are located, in comparison to schools and where children would gather.” -Yonah Martin, deputy Conservative leader in the Senate.

The last time the Senate discussed legalization, October 2016, it was again a PC Senator, this time from British Columbia, Yonah Martin, who also brought up concerns with impaired driving, as well as dispensaries. Yonah is the deputy Conservative leader in the Senate.

“In my home province, in the Lower Mainland there are many illegal marijuana shops, medical marijuana shops. I see them everywhere I go. They are quite visible on every main street that I drive in Vancouver, and it’s actually quite shocking where some are located, in comparison to schools and where children would gather.”

The Senate of 105 seats is currently dominated by 40 Conservative Party Senators. Another 35 are part of an Independent Senators Group, 19 part of ‘Independent Liberals” and seven non-affiliated seats. Four seats are currently vacant.

The Independent Liberals, or the Senate Liberal Caucus or Senate Independent Liberal Caucus, are independent Liberal Senators. Senate Liberals were part of the parliamentary Liberal Party caucus until January 2014 when Justin Trudeau removed all Senators from the caucus with the purpose of their becoming independent. The independent senators still sit as a group and refer to themselves as the Senate Liberal Caucus.

The amount of Conservatives in the Senate is important to the legalization process because any new legislation, as the Liberals have promised to introduce in the Spring, will eventually need to be passed by both the House and Senate before receiving Royal Assent and becoming law.

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