"Bill C-45 will now go to the Senate for further scrutiny
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, from left, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and then health minister Jane Philpott introduced the federal government's legislation last April. Bill C-45 could pass a key hurdle tonight. (The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld)
MPs passed the Liberal government's bill to legalize cannabis Monday evening, sending the legislation down the hall to the Senate for further study and debate.
The legislation was largely supported along partisan lines, although it secured the support of the NDP and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. The final vote was 200 MPs in favour, with 82 against. Conservative MP Scott Reid voted for the bill after he polled constituents in his eastern Ontario riding, Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, and found a plurality supported the Liberal plan.
A last-ditch Conservative effort to delay the bill — and send it to the Commons health committee for further study — failed by a vote of 83 to 199 with some Bloc Québecois MPs voting with Tory legislators. Conservative opposition will now fall to their national caucus colleagues in the Red Chamber, where some senators have already signalled they are prepared to give the bill a rough ride. Some Tories have said the government's timeline for legalization, July 1, 2018, is far too ambitious.
The Liberal government ultimately accepted three significant amendments to the bill made by the Commons committee tasked with studying the landmark legislation — the government has agreed to ditch its plan to cap marijuana plants maintained in a person's home to 100 centimetres tall. MPs felt such a requirement would be too difficult to enforce. The government also accepted an amendment that would demand regulations be enacted, one year from Bill C-45's passage, on edible cannabis products, something ignored by Liberal legislators in this bill.
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