A drug law with weight

As Parliament pauses for the holiday season, I want to share with you two important announcements made this past week that will have an impact on our community and country in 2017.

Marijuana task force reports to Parliament and Canadians

Our government has committed to legalizing, strictly regulating and restricting access to cannabis, to help keep it out of the hands of youth and keep profits out of the hands of criminals.

In June, our government established a task force to consult on issues fundamental to the design of a new legislative and regulatory system for restricted access to marijuana.

At the same time, a discussion paper, which included background information and key questions, was provided as a starting point for consultations.

The task force, which was led by Anne McLellan, chancellor of Dalhousie University and former Liberal cabinet minister, travelled across Canada, and to the U.S states where cannabis was legalized.

They met with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and experts in relevant fields, including public health, substance abuse, criminal justice, law enforcement, economics, industry and those with expertise in production, distribution, and sales.

The task force also engaged representatives from Indigenous governments and organizations, as well as Canadian youth.

As of Dec. 13, the task force’s final report has been completed and submitted to our government, and been made available to the public and all parliamentarians at the same time.

The final report is available online in both official languages at http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/task-force-marijuana-groupe-etude/framework-cadre/index-eng.php.

The government will carefully consider the task force’s advice as it develops legislation to be introduced in Parliament in the spring of 2017.

The new legislation would come into force after being passed by Parliament and once the requisite regulations have been developed.

As we move forward with legislation, we will continue to work closely and collaboratively with the provinces and territories as well as with Indigenous communities, our partners and stakeholders. 

I encourage constituents who have an interest in this issue to review the report and share your thoughts with me.

Safe consumption sites

Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, which will replace the national anti-drug strategy with a more balanced approach.

A record number of Canadians have died from drug overdoses this year, including those involving fentanyl.

Building on actions taken earlier this year, our government is updating its drug strategy to provide for a comprehensive approach that will reduce the harm being experienced by individuals and communities.

The bill would repeal the previous, burdensome legislative regime for establishing supervised consumption sites by streamlining the application process.

It restores harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada’s drug policy, alongside prevention, treatment, and enforcement and supports all pillars with a strong evidence base.

The legislation also proposes to prohibit the unregistered import of pill presses, and remove the exception currently placed on border officers to only inspect mail weighing more than 30 grams.

The new legislation would allow officers to open international mail of any weight if they suspect the item might contain prohibited, controlled or regulated goods.

The opioid crisis has taken a toll on many communities across Canada. Our renewed, evidence-based approach to Canada's drug strategy will allow the government to better protect Canadians, save lives, and address the root causes of this crisis.

For those looking for more information please go to: http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca.

I want to wish everyone a safe and peaceful Merry Christmas and holiday season. May you all find time to be with those you love and take time to rest from your busy lives.  

I look forward to serving you in the New Year.

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About the Author

Stephen Fuhr was born in Edmonton, AB and grew up in Kamloops, BC. He is a former CF-18 fighter pilot with the Canadian Air Force.

After serving with distinction for 20 years, Stephen retired from the Canadian Forces in 2009 with the rank of Major. He joined his family’s Kelowna-based company, SkyTrac Systems, which develops aviation communication and tracking equipment. As CEO and Director of Business Development, he led the company to financial success in a challenging economic climate.

In 2012, Stephen left the company to pursue his first love of flying.

With growing interest in politics and a desire to serve his country again, Stephen ran for office in the 2015 election.

Today, he proudly serves as the Member of Parliament for the Kelowna-Lake Country riding. 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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