This is page numbers 4103 - 4182 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was going.

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Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

May 31st, 2018

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Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Next, we have Mr. Thompson.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to thank the honourable Member for Frame Lake for bringing this motion forward.

In looking at this, and listening to the data out there, it's 25 and under. If we really want to have an impact on our youth and the brain development, we shouldn't allow it until the age of 25. When we talk about the possession of 10 grams or less, but it doesn't talk about the possession at home. They could have 10 grams in their pocket, and they can still have a whack of it at home. Ten grams is a lot. As we travelled, a gram works out to be about three joints. What's that? I'm getting educated here.

I'm just going by what the federal government task force said a joint weighed, was 0.3 of a gram. Even if it's half a gram per joint, that's still 20 joints on the person's possession. Having it is not going to be a deterrent. To me, having it on your person is not going to stop them. When I talked to the youth, and we had the pleasure of talking to three classes, they're going to get it whenever they want it. Let's be realistic about it. That is what they told us. They told us straight up that if they wanted to find something, they were going to get it.

I want to support this. If it was zero to the age of 25, and then having it say that it's not a criminal charge, maybe a fine, but the other challenge I have, though, is the ages of 19 to 25. That's our students going off to school. They're going to go off to school in other jurisdictions. The other jurisdictions say 30 grams. They're going to have that possession. They come back home without really thinking about it. I'll use an example of hockey players, beers in the hockey bag. You go into a dry community, and you open your bag, and what is that? A beer. Uh-oh. I mean, R.C. would never, ever say he would do that, but I've done it. I'm not supposed to say names. I apologize to the Minister, but I've seen it happen. I've seen it happen.

I do not want to put our youth into a situation where they're going to end up with a criminal record. Criminal records carry on, even so minor of a possession charge. We're seeing that right now in the mines, where people aren't able to work because of criminal records with drugs, just possession, and there are people not working.

I know people that were 18 years old, did something silly, crossed the border, and they can't cross that border anymore. I don't want to see us putting it in there and giving the youth an opportunity to have a criminal record. As much as I understand what the honourable Member is trying to do, I wish I could support it, but I just can't. If it was 25 and there was no possession, I would jump all over that. That, to me, is a deterrent, and I would have loved to have seen that motion.

I know the honourable Member from Frame Lake is trying to comprise and come up with a solution that works for everybody, but unfortunately, I can't support it. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Thompson. Next, we have Mr. Simpson.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I won't be supporting this motion, although I do agree with much of what has been said. One of my professors once said that the development of a 19-year-old to a 25-year-old's brain is like turning a dirt road into a superhighway. It is true that a lot of development happens during that stage, but reducing the possession limit, in my opinion, won't do anything to curb consumption.

When I see people coming out of the liquor store, 19-to-25-year-olds, they're not carrying Texas mickeys; they're carrying bottles. They're not going to go in there and buy as much cannabis as they can. By allowing them to only buy less isn't going to make a difference. People go in there, they get what they need, and 10 grams is still a lot. It is a lot of cannabis to have. I mean, that's not a night's worth. That's going to last you for a long time. It's not going to be that inconvenient that it's going to be a big deterrent to you.

I do appreciate what the Member is doing. Like I said before, people are very concerned about the youth, and it's education. I disagree with the Member from Frame Lake in that sense. Education is the way to deal with this issue, just like smoking cigarettes. We have seen a massive decrease over the past few decades, and that is because of education.

I don't want to make this change, and the government says, "Look, we're doing something. We've reduced the possession limit for people under 25." Well, that's not doing something that's education. I don't want them to be able to use that as an excuse. For those reasons, I won't be supporting this. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Simpson. Next, we have Ms. Green.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I am in support of this motion. I was in support of it even before the debacle of the last motion on co-location, where the government demonstrated irrevocably that they are not interested in harm reduction. I will continue to argue in favour of harm reduction, and I believe that this motion presents that possibility.

The intent of this motion is not to make life difficult for the casual user. It is to try and prevent casual users from becoming chronic users. It is aimed at presenting a level of deterrents to stop youth from becoming chronic users. The casual users are not our audience here. It's the chronic user who is going to jeopardize his or her brain development between the ages of 19 and 25, and what we are proposing here is a means of harm reduction. It is not the be-all and end-all. It needs to be done in conjunction with education, and it needs to be done in conjunction with support from the schools, educating youth about the risks of consuming cannabis, both casually and chronically.

There are a number of approaches that could be taken, but this motion, in my mind, leads the way to acknowledging what we heard in the southern tour about the need to help young people manage the risks to brain development by consuming cannabis, and it also responds to fears that parents have about their children becoming chronic users of cannabis.

It presents, I believe, harm reduction without a lot of effort on anyone's part. It is my understanding that enforcement of this entire act will be complaints-based, so I don't perceive that having another enforcement tool would be onerous. It would, in fact, accomplish safety for our youth, and in the end, this bill is really about them. I would like to see a recorded vote on this. Thank you.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Ms. Green. Next, we have Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. This was not one of the committee motions, but I am glad the mover has brought this forward because it is an important issue, and we did hear a lot about the age limit. Many Members spoke to the minimum age for consumption. I know that this motion does not change that or propose to change that.

The mover also spoke about the jurisdictions of the states with a minimum age of 21. They also have a minimum age of 21 for the consumption of alcohol. In the European countries that have legalized cannabis, their ages are much lower, lower than what is being proposed: 18 in the Netherlands, just to use two examples, and 18 in Portugal. Portugal, in particular, has been very successful at curbing underage use of cannabis and did not require a higher age to do it.

I think, if the intention here is to increase the age because of the concerns about brain development, the motion should read that way. I don't think that establishing a limit, a two-tiered system of possession, is going to be effective.

Chronic cannabis users can easily smoke 10 grams a day and be satisfied, I believe, and this doesn't change that. Consumption patterns are quite different in cannabis consumption than alcohol consumption. While I could see a better rationale if this was an alcohol limit, which would limit how many bottles you can buy or how much beer you could buy, dried cannabis is consumed very differently and has very different effects, and 10 grams is a lot of cannabis. It's not as much as 30, but it's still enough to get intoxicated off of.

I don't think this will have a huge difference, other than potentially putting someone between the age of 19 and 25 in criminal jeopardy should they go over that limit and be charged under the criminal code, and I think that is a significant concern for people aged 19 to 25. At this point, you're old enough to vote, you're most likely headed off to university if that's your choice, we're expecting you to be an adult, and, at this point, if public education has been put in place, you should be old enough to make responsible decisions, including how to responsibly use cannabis, and be very aware of the potentially hazardous effects it has on young brain development.

I should caution about the medical evidence we have on cannabis usage. It's not complete. It's an illegal substance, and, I've said this many times before, we haven't been able to study it as fully as tobacco or alcohol because it's been an illegal substance. The medical community is cautioning us with the best available evidence they have, and I'm not questioning that evidence, but what I'm saying is we don't know all the facts yet because we simply do not have enough evidence.

I don't think this is going to have an effect on cannabis consumption for those under the age of 25, and I think it does unduly create criminal jeopardy. Again, we should be using public education to support responsible cannabis usage and not heavy-handed measures like possession limits and Criminal Code charges. So I won't be supporting this amendment, thank you.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Testart. Next, we have Mr. Nadli.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I, too, will not be supporting this motion. I think colleagues have noted that there is a need for public education. I think it was resounding in our travels in communities that people wanted to know more about cannabis, or marijuana, as a product and, in some respects, its different forms and for its different purposes.

I think what should be known, too, and I think should be strongly stated by the House is that the best approach to dealing with marijuana, or cannabis, is that simple abstinence, trying to live a clean and healthy lifestyle, that means you don't need drugs, you don't need alcohol, and life is good. I think that's what we should be promoting and standing on that. That's a very simple message, but I think people need to hear that you can actually live without the use of alcohol or drugs and be on a natural high.

On record, too, I did, among my colleagues, propose the idea of increasing the age limit for the legalization of marijuana so that people have to be 21 to be able to access marijuana, but I don't think that had any traction at that time. Therefore, I won't be supporting this motion. Mahsi.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. Next on the list, we have Minister Sebert.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Louis Sebert Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I understand the legitimate concerns that have led to the bringing forth of this motion. There are concerns about heavy use of cannabis in this age group, I think that harm can best be reduced by public education. No other jurisdiction has set an age limit above 19. Ours is, of course, 19. Generally, jurisdictions have based their age on the same age as liquor. I also don't think that this would be particularly effective. This two-tiered system would be rather complicated, unique in Canada, as I said, and the harm we wish to reduce, I think, can be best accomplished through awareness. For those reasons, we won't be supporting this motion. Thank you.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister Sebert. To the motion.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 62-18(3): Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act - Amendment to Schedule A, Section 11 - Addition After subsection (2) DEFEATED
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. The Member has requested a recorded vote. All those in favour, please rise.