Earlier today (May 31), Conservative Senator Vern White saw his proposal to ban Canadians from growing cannabis at home go up in smoke with a vote of 40-33 against his amendment.
Following that, fellow Conservative Senator Claude Carignan proposed restricting home cultivation to indoors only, which would have meant no cannabis allowed in your yard or garden.
This too was rejected by a vote of 40-31.
Of the 92 senators currently sitting in the Upper House, there are 32 Conservatives, 11 Senate Liberals, and 42 independents. According to the Montreal Gazette, the Conservative senators voted as a block in favour of their colleagues’ proposals but even that wasn’t enough, as they failed to win over enough independents on the issue (thank god!).
Although the country-wide ban failed, expect to see provincial bans
But that doesn’t mean that all Canadians can look forward to growing a few cannabis plants at home if they want to because the Senate has already accepted amendments to Bill C-45 (aka the Cannabis Act) that leave home cultivation up to the discretion of the provinces and territories.
Quebec and Manitoba have already indicated that they will outright ban any home cultivation, but that is already facing strong opposition which we can expect to see play out in the courts.
According to the Montreal Gazette, Independent Sen. Mary Jane McCallum, a Cree from Manitoba,said,
“Banning home cultivation would exacerbate the over-representation of First Nations youths in the criminal justice system.
Prohibiting alcohol never, ever worked in First Nations communities, and if they don’t have marijuana, then they go to alcohol, and alcohol and smoking are more dangerous than marijuana at this point.”
More of the same Conservative “think of the children” fear-mongering
One of the main talking points that anti-cannabis crusaders keep coming back to is “keeping cannabis out of the hands of children”, and we can assume that the Conservatives’ attempts to ban home growing can be largely traced back to this. But what the Conservatives do not know (or are being willfully ignorant of) is that a kid picking a few leaves off a cannabis plant is nowhere near the same thing as stealing a bottle from their parent’s liquor cabinet because there is a significant amount of time and work involved in not only growing cannabis, but in drying and curing it as well.
If a kid sees a cannabis plant growing in their yard and decides to grab a couple buds and eat them, they won’t even get high since the THC in cannabis needs to be activated in some way, usually by combustion, before you can get the psychoactive effects.
And if the kid wanted to properly smoke it, they’d need to dry and cure it, and it is very unlikely a child will have the know-how (or patience) to do that since it’s a process that can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months or more, depending on the strain.
When Conservatives couldn’t ban all home grows, they tried to ban outdoor growing. Why?
But the Conservatives, in their opposition to cannabis, are doing everything in their power to stop legalization in Canada, and Conservative Sen. Carignan’s proposal to ban outdoor home cultivation was not only shortsighted, it ignored some of the very real benefits of growing cannabis outdoors.
This just shows how far Conservatives are willing to go, overlooking facts and science in order to push their own political agenda. Forget that forcing cannabis indoors continues the same old Prohibitionist hysteria that forced growers indoors in the first place. Growers didn’t move indoors because they wanted to, it was because they had to due to laws that the majority of Canadians now rightfully see as unjust.
Growing indoors often leads to an increase in both energy costs and water usage, and can increase the risk of mildew and molds inside the house (which should be noted is a main justification used by property managers and strata to ban cannabis growing on their premises), not to mention the significant start-up costs of indoor grow equipment such as lights and fans.
But as Liberal independent Sen. Art Eggleton told the Montreal Gazette,
“One expert maintained that having a shower without the fan on would produce more moisture in a home than four marijuana plants, so I don’t think we can fear-monger based on some of the horror stories around illicit grow-ops”.
These are all barriers for growing indoors, and I’d bet that when the Conservatives’ outright ban on all home cultivation failed, they tried to restrict it to indoors only knowing how much more difficult it is, especially for first-time growers.
Since growing indoors has a larger carbon footprint than growing outdoors, it was environmentally-irresponsible for the Conservatives to try to force Canadians to grow their cannabis in one of the least sustainable ways possible- and it was all for political reasons.