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article imageSenators say Indigenous community not fully consulted on pot bill

By Karen Graham     May 2, 2018 in Politics
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left the door open Wednesday to a possible delay in enacting the Liberal government's cannabis bill after a report issued Tuesday by the Senate aboriginal peoples committee asked the government to delay the legalization.
Liberal Saskatchewan Senator. Lillian Dyck, the chair of the Senate committee, said in a report on Bill C-45 that the government didn't consult enough with First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities before going ahead with the legalization of cannabis at the national level, reports CBC Canada.
"Many communities are really worried about the potential adverse effects on their members, and especially on their youth, and it may be even worse because of the trauma in their communities," Dyck said, adding existing social issues in Indigenous communities could be made worse by increased drug use.
If passed, the amendment would delay implementation of Bill C-45 for up to a year. However, as the bill is written right now, it will take an order by the governor-in-council — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet, to fix a date for the legislation to come into effect.
A final vote on Bill C-45 is expected to occur on or before June 7, and then, if it passes, it will take eight to 12 weeks before the legalization becomes law.
The bud of a Cannabis sativa flower coated with trichomes bearing cannabidiol and other cannabinoids...
The bud of a Cannabis sativa flower coated with trichomes bearing cannabidiol and other cannabinoids.
Psychonaught via Wikimedia
According to the Coast Reporter, when asked if he would be willing to delay implementing Bill C-45, Trudeau would not answer directly, instead indicating the Liberals would move ahead on the planned legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
"We'll continue to consult a broad range of Canadians," Trudeau said as he entered a meeting of his caucus. "And as our parliamentary secretary Bill Blair says regularly, legalization is not an event, it's a process," he added.
"And that process will continue."
What is missing in the legalization of cannabis?
There are a number of issues that need to be addressed before the legislation is voted on. One big issue is tax-revenue sharing between the government and First Nations, which the committee says has not been properly addressed.
Marijuana being grown in a greenhouse for Canopy Growth Corp in  Smith Falls  Ontario.
Marijuana being grown in a greenhouse for Canopy Growth Corp in Smith Falls, Ontario.
Canopy Growth Corp.
The Committee stated that there needs to be culturally appropriate educational materials produced that explain the law as well as the risks associated with people using the drug. And on this same track, First Nations communities need to be assured they will be able to regulate the law for themselves or, for that matter, decide if they want pot to be legal in their communities or not.
The concerns by First Nation and other Indigenous communities about the adverse effects on their communities and especially young people are backed up by a recent study published in Sage Journals in February this year.
The authors found that illicit drug use is indeed a problem for Indigenous peoples in Canada, and the Canadian government needs to join the international efforts in its control of illegal drugs spreading. The study found that "the percentage of Aboriginal peoples who have ever tried marijuana, cannabis, hashish, prescription drugs for recreational purpose, or street drugs (i.e., cocaine, speed, solvents or steroids) is nearly 66 percent."
So wanting the Canadian government to give these communities more control over whether or not they want recreational pot being sold or even used in the communities is certainly something that needs to be addressed. Also, Justice Department officials have argued the Criminal Code, Controlled Drugs, and Substances Act and the Cannabis Act will override and bylaws enacted by Indigenous communities. The Senate committee does not agree with his.
The committee also says that First Nations deserve an economic share of pot taxes and it is one of several things the committee says Ottawa has to put in place before pot becomes legal. This means the Liberal government has a lot to do before anything goes much further, according to The Star.
More about Marijuana bill, Canada, Aboriginal peoples committee, Taxes, Liberal government
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