One amendment the legislation allows provinces to prohibit home cultivation of cannabis if they choose, rather than accept the four marijuana plants per dwelling as set out in the bill. (The Canadian Press)

Senate approves marijuana bill with plenty of amendments

Legalization bill passes by a vote of 56-30 with one abstention

The Senate has approved the Trudeau government’s landmark legislation to lift Canada’s 95-year-old prohibition on recreational cannabis — but with nearly four dozen amendments that the government may not entirely accept.

Bill C-45 passed easily in the upper house late Thursday by a vote of 56-30 with one abstention, over the objections of Conservative senators who remained resolutely opposed.

“It’s a historic night for Canada in terms of progressive health policy and social policy,” said independent Sen. Tony Dean, the bill’s sponsor in the upper house.

“We know that prohibition doesn’t work. I think this is a brave move on the part of the government, frankly, to take on a tough and controversial issue.”

But the pot saga is not over yet. The bill must now go back to the House of Commons, where the government will decide whether to approve, reject or modify the changes before returning it to the Senate for another vote.

Once passed, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has said that provinces and territories will need two to three months to prepare before retail sales of legal cannabis are actually available.

Most of the Senate’s amendments are minor — including some 30 technical amendments proposed at the government’s behest.

But about a dozen are significant, including one to allow provinces to prohibit home cultivation of cannabis if they choose, rather than accept the four marijuana plants per dwelling allowed under the bill. Quebec and Manitoba have already chosen to prohibit home-grown weed, but the amendment would erase the possibility of legal challenges to their constitutional authority to do so.

READ MORE: Two-thirds of current pot users will switch to legal retailers, survey suggests

Dean said he has no idea if the government will support that change. But he pointed to the fact that it was proposed by a fellow independent senator to counter Conservative accusations that the independents are actually partisans doing the Liberal government’s bidding.

In the end only one independent senator, Josee Verner — who formerly sat in the Conservative Senate caucus — voted against the bill.

Conservative suspicions were further fuelled by the fact that two senators appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday were sworn in Thursday in time to vote for the bill — something Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos termed “deplorable.”

But Donna Dasko, one of the two new senators, said she’s spent years researching issues related to drug use and felt knowledgeable enough to vote on the bill without having sat through witness testimony and hours of debate.

Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, leader of the independent senators’ group, said one had only to look at the amendments proposed by the independents — including the home cultivation one — to know the Tory accusations of partisanship aren’t true.

Among other amendments is one that would impose even more stringent restrictions on advertising by cannabis companies, preventing them from promoting their brands on so-called swag, such as T-shirts and ball caps.

Yet another is aimed at recognizing that marijuana is often shared socially. It would make it a summary or ticketing offence for a young adult to share five grams or less of cannabis with a minor who is no more than two years younger and it would allow parents to share it with their kids, as they can with wine or alcohol.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hwy. 7 goes to alternating one-lane traffic as crews fight Mt. Hicks wildfire

150-hectare blaze prompted closure of a provincial park

Drug-checking started as pilot project in Chilliwack to test for fentanyl

Substance is mixed with water on test strip, and result is revealed in minutes

Chilliwack goes cluck-cluck for chickens ahead of civic election

With an election in sight, urban chickens supporters ramp up their efforts for legal acceptance

Chilliwack basketballers grab gold at U-15 nationals

Julia Tuchscherer and Marijke Duralia led Team B.C. past Team Ontario in the title game.

Minto Cup trip for Chilliwack Mustangs lacrosse grad

Tyson Kirkness leads his Coquitlam Adanacs into battle at the national junior championship.

A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

NASA provides a timelapse of smoke covering B.C. from space

5 to start your day

Quidditch comes to Surrey, a drug-testing pilot in Chilliwack and more

Court hearing on Humboldt Broncos fundraising to test Saskatchewan law

The money has yet to be distributed because Saskatchewan has legislation known as the Informal Public Appeals Act

Tugboat flips, sinks overnight in Fraser River

Vancouver says tug could release ‘significant amount’ of fuel

Fredericton police release scene of shooting spree, but ‘damage’ remains

Residents of a Fredericton apartment complex may not be able to return home just yet

Bus crash in Ecuador kills 23 people, injures 14

The bus hit another vehicle in an area known as dead man’s curve on Tuesday

Trump lashes out at Omarosa, calls her ‘that dog’

Manigault Newman continues promoting her White House tell-all and releasing secret audio recordings

UPDATE: Bridge collapses in Genoa, Italy killing at least 20

Five more people are injured and in serious condition

Man plows truck into Houses of Parliament in London

UK police treat Parliament crash as terrorism, man arrested

Most Read