MPs studying the government’s legal cannabis legislation were urged Thursday to consider “amnesty provisions” for individuals with prior cannabis offences to allow access to the legal market.
“Many of these individuals would embrace the opportunity to operate legally and they would comply with regulations,” Trina Fraser told the House of Commons health committee. Fraser is a partner in the law firm Brazeau Seller LLP.
“If we fail to create an inclusive cannabis industry the black market will thrive and if it thrives cannabis will continue to be easily accessible to minors. The public health and safety objective of restricting access to unregulated cannabis products will be compromised and we will continue to place an unnecessary burden on the criminal justice system,” said Fraser.
In its current form, Bill C-45 would allow the minister to refuse the granting of a licence or permit should an applicant have contravened the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in the past 10 years.
Fraser said that provision excludes anyone who has been convicted of producing, trafficking or possessing cannabis in the last decade. She said yet-to-be established regulations could further broaden grounds for exclusion.
“The stated objectives of the bill include the reduction of the illicit market, and it attempts to do so by imposing criminal sanctions on those operating outside the legal framework, but this in and of itself will not work. We know this because it hasn’t worked. Those who are excluded will continue to operate outside of the law,” Fraser told the committee.
Amnesty provisions in the U.S.
Fraser suggested MPs look to the U.S. for direction on the matter.
In Washington, a