Canada’s Senate on track to approve amended recreational cannabis bill

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A bid by Conservative senators to stall Canada’s recreational marijuana legalization was swatted down Monday, foreshadowing the bill’s approval when it is put to a vote later this week.

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Cannabis businesses across Canada are closely following the pending law’s progress in the Senate as they await the go-ahead for legal sales.

Monday’s 50-29 vote to reject delaying the bill suggests the pending law has enough support in the upper chamber for approval Thursday. It would then go to the House of Commons.

“The constant effort of Conservative senators to be creative with finding ways to delay the passage of the bill is wearing thin,” Sen. Tony Dean, the point person on cannabis legalization in the Senate, told Marijuana Business Daily. “I’m optimistic that the bill will be approved on Thursday.”

So far there are 41 amendments, but 29 are technical in nature.

One of the most concerning amendments for cannabis businesses calls for Parliament to approve new products.

“Industry is viewing that as additional red tape,” said Alex Shiff, senior consultant with Navigator Ltd. communications firm in Vancouver, British Columbia.

That amendment could delay the approval of edibles and concentrates, which is supposed to happen within one year of legalization.

Deepak Anand, vice president of government relations for the consultancy Cannabis Compliance, warned that politicizing something as important as edibles ahead of a federal election in 2019 “could have a negative impact on legalization, because you’re not achieving a lot of the stated objectives of legalization. Edibles are going to be a massive part of the new industry.”

After the Senate approves the bill, the House of Commons can accept or reject any of the amendments.

If there are amendments the Commons is not comfortable with, it will communicate that in an official “message” to the Senate. The Senate would then have another discussion and vote on the bill as it is proposed to be amended.

“On a bill like this, with this many amendments, I wouldn’t be surprised if the government questions some of the amendments,” Dean said.

 

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