Bill C-45 and Ontario’s Cannabis Act

Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances, the Criminal Code and other Acts, is currently on its second reading in the Senate. The main objective of this Act is to protect public health and safety and prevent young persons from accessing cannabis. The Act also aims to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis once it becomes legalized.

Canadian youth have one of the highest rates of cannabis use across the globe, which is one of the reasons why legalization is so appealing. Despite this, the Canadian government appears to be using the same approach to cannabis regulation as they have done with alcohol, which has failed to prevent its use in adolescents (Myran & Forrest, 2018). One of the key differences in the regulation of cannabis, however, appears to be the restrictions in regards to marketing. Unlike alcohol, under Bill C-45, cannabis cannot be featured in television commercials or featured on any products that appeal to youth, including celebrity endorsements (Kari, 2018).

Ontario is currently the only province that has passed marijuana laws. Under the Cannabis Act it will be illegal for anyone under the age of 19 to buy, sell, possess, or share recreational cannabis (the same age requirement for alcohol or tobacco use). Cannabis will be available to purchase in 40 stores across the province as of July 2018, and individuals will only be allowed to smoke on private property. The aim is to have 150 stores selling cannabis by 2020 (Otis, 2017).

While the Liberal party has stated that Bill C-45 moving to the Senate has been a very important step in the right direction, the Conservatives have made it clear they would like to derail the process as much as possible. The Conservatives made a bid to delay the implementation of the bill, but it was defeated in a vote of 199-83 in November (Canadian Press, 2017). Conservatives have yet to give up, however, urging the government to consider a 2019 deadline of legalization instead.


This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.