Legalization of cannabis, the Liberal government demonstrates that it acts with haste, improvisation and negligence

February 6, 2018

Press release

For immediate release

 

Legalization of cannabis, the Liberal government demonstrates that it acts with haste, improvisation and negligence

 

Ottawa, February 6, 2018 - Today, the ministers of health, justice and public safety appeared before the Senate to answer senators' questions regarding Bill C-45, a bill to to legalize the use of cannabis.

 

In this context, Senator Claude Carignan asked the three ministers if their departments had sought legal advice on the risk of prosecution of producers and distributors of cannabis who will act following the adoption of Bill C-45. Recalling the June 2015 judgment condemning three major cigarette production and distribution companies to a record fine of more than $ 15 billion, Senator Carignan went on this issue "Ladies and Ministers, did you obtain legal opinions on the risk of class actions worth several billions of dollars in damages and interests against the Government of Canada which is putting into place this new system, against provincial companies and Crown corporations which will set up distribution services, and against cannabis producing companies? If no, why?” None of the three Ministers answered this simple question. Then, Senator Carignan asked his second question: “Did you have discussions with, or make commitments to, cannabis producing companies on possible financial compensation in the case of consumer lawsuits?” The answer to this question: “No”"

 

Clearly, the Liberal government has not measured this very important issue related to its desire to equalize the use of cannabis. Senator Carignan said that he was shocked by the answers he received, but especially by the total improvisation of this government on this issue, which has a considerable impact on our society: “Obviously, the ministers were surprised by my questions and obviously also, the government did not consider this angle of the legalization of cannabis. This government is playing with the fire with the health of Canadians without taking measures to protect our citizens, especially our young people” rebuked the senator Carignan.

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Information: Jacques Hébert, Director of parliamentary affairs

                                    (613) 992-0240,                           (514) 229-5440

Context:

In June 2015, the Superior Court of Quebec convicted the following tobacco companies:

JTI-MACDONALD CORP., IMPERIAL TOBACCO CANADA LIMITED. and ROTHMANS, BENSON & HEDGES INC. fined more than $ 15 billion following two class actions against these companies.

 

“SUMMARY OF THE JUDGMENT

 

The two class actions against the Canadian cigarette companies are maintained in part.

In both actions, the claim for common or collective damages was limited to moral damages and punitive damages, with both classes of plaintiffs renouncing their potential right to make individual claims for compensatory damages, such as loss of income. 

In the Blais File, taken in the name of a class of persons with lung cancer, throat cancer or emphysema, the Court finds the defendants liable for both moral and punitive damages.  It holds that they committed four separate faults, including under the general duty not to cause injury to another person, under the duty of a manufacturer to inform its customers of the risks and dangers of its products, under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and under the Quebec Consumer Protection Act.

In Blais, the Court awards moral damages in the amount of $6,858,864,000 solidarily among the defendants.  Since this action was instituted in 1998, this sum translates to approximately $15,500,000,000 once interest and the additional indemnity are added.

 

 The Authorization Judgment also set out the "eight principal questions of fact and law to be dealt with collectively" (the "Common Questions").

 

A.  Did the Defendants manufacture, market and sell a product that was dangerous and harmful to the health of consumers?

 

 

B.  Did the Defendants know, or were they presumed to know of the risks and dangers associated with the use of their products?

 

 

C.  Did the Defendants knowingly put on the market a product that creates dependence and did they choose not to use the parts of the tobacco containing a level of nicotine sufficiently low that it would have had the effect of terminating the dependence of a large part of the smoking population?

 

D. Did the Defendants employ a systematic policy of non-divulgation of such risks and dangers?

 

 

E.  Did the Defendants trivialize or deny such risks and dangers?

 

F.  Did the Defendants employ marketing strategies conveying false information about the characteristics of the items sold? 

 

G. Did the Defendants conspire among themselves to maintain a common front in order to impede users of their products from learning of the inherent dangers of such use?

 

 

 

H. Did the Defendants intentionally interfere with the right to life, personal security and inviolability of the class members?” 

 

 

 

Regarding the legalization of cannabis, health experts have sounded the alarm (Extracts from the briefs presented to the House of Commons during the study of Bill C-45):

 

Association of Psychiatrists of Quebec

 

"In addition, cannabis use increases the risk of developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Indeed, studies show that the risk of developing psychosis increases by 40% among those who have used cannabis at least once in their life. This risk rises to 390% among consumers who use it intensively.

 

In addition, 50% of people with toxic psychosis, i.e. acute symptoms such as hallucinations, delirium or disorganization related to intoxication, will develop a psychotic disorder in the next ten years.

 

As a general rule, the risks are additive, ie the higher the concentration and the more frequent the use, the higher the risk of developing a psychosis. "

 

 

Canadian Cancer Society

 

"Many cannabis users mix tobacco and cannabis when making a cannabis cigarette. Ontario data show that last year, 32% of cannabis users mixed tobacco and cannabis1. Those who smoke tobacco in this way may develop nicotine addiction.

 

A large number of young smokers also consume cannabis. The 2014-2015 Canada Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey (CSTAD) found that in 2014-2015, 73% of students in Grades 7 to 12 who smoked tobacco had used cannabis in the last 30 days, while only 3% had never smoked tobacco2.

 

Cannabis and cancer

Many of the same carcinogens found in tobacco smoke are found in cannabis smoke, and there is some evidence that cannabis use may increase the risk of developing cancer. "

 

 

Canadian Pediatric Society

 

"Eighty percent of young cannabis users also smoke Tobacco.

 

The simultaneous consumption of tobacco and cannabis contributes considerably symptoms of cannabis addiction, because withdrawal symptoms following the simultaneous discontinuation of the two substances are more marked than after the abandonment of only one of them (39). With regard to other drugs, a longitudinal prospective study has shown that cannabis use in adolescence increases the future consumption of ecstasy sixfold. "

 

 

Federation of Medical Specialists of Quebec

 

"... compared to cannabis 10 or 15 years ago, cannabis currently consumed has a significantly higher level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can lead to greater dependence among some types of consumers. "

 

 

Association of Quebec Public Health Directors

 

«EFFECTS ON THE RESPIRATORY DEVICE

When inhaled on a regular basis, cannabis increases coughing and mucus production, but these symptoms are reversible. Also, this use aggravates respiratory symptoms and increases the frequency of episodes of chronic bronchitis in long-term smokers [15]. In addition, respiratory infections caused by contamination of the product, including mold, have already been observed [13].

 

EFFECTS ON PREGNANT WOMEN, FETUS AND NEWBORN

Until now, the only association for cannabis use during pregnancy is having a baby with a low weight [15]. Nevertheless, active ingredients of cannabis crossing the placental barrier, other effects remain to be studied [13]. "

 

 

 

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