Mamidosewin (meeting place, walking together)

February 24, 2016—Legalization of Marijuana

February 24, 2016—Legalization of Marijuana

On February 24th, we invited you to join us in a discussion on the legalization of marijuana. In its speech from the throne, the government reaffirmed its commitment to legalize marijuana during its mandate. Recent polls suggest that the majority of Canadians support such a move. As Canada moves toward legalization, it is crucial that it is done right. How should marijuana be sold? What steps can be taken to ensure marijuana stays out of the hands of minors? What tools are available to police for those driving under the influence?

To answer these and other questions, we invited a panel of experts and policy makers to address these and other issues.

Our panel included:

  • Bill Blair, M.P., Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
  • Clive Weighill, President, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP)
  • Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA)
    • Amy Porath-Waller, Ph.D., Director, Research and Policy
    • Rebecca Jesseman, Senior Policy Advisor
  • Benedikt Fischer, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
  • Eugene Oscapella, Lawyer and lecturer on drug policy, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa


This meeting took place:

Wednesday, February 24th
9:30am – 11:30am
Room 160-S, Centre Block


Our discussions are not only open to all parliamentarians, but also to the public, who are welcome to attend in person or follow along and contribute via social media at @LibSenate on Twitter.



We have read your concerns and recognize there is some misunderstanding about the role of our Open Caucus meetings. We would like to address this below:

  1. The Senate Liberals are no longer affiliated with the governing Liberals in the House of Commons. What this means is we can only affect government policy insofar as we can vote on and study legislation as individual Senators. This is not a government sanctioned panel.
  2. Blair is appearing as a witness in his role as a member of the Government. If you look to our meeting on February 3rd, you will note we also hosted Mr. Holland, Parliamentary Secretary on Democratic Reform as a member of our panel on Election Reform. We cannot always secure a government representative, but when we do we welcome them in order to hear the government’s perspective.
  3. This is not a meeting to discuss whether or not the government should legalize marijuana, but rather how to legalize it. The government re-committed to its election promise to legalize marijuana in its speech from the throne, which we take to mean legalization is coming in one form or another. As legislators who will be voting on this legislation in the near future, we are looking to inform ourselves and others on how to go about this in a responsible way that works and can last. We recognize that we cannot touch on all aspects of legalization during a two hour meeting.
  4. This meeting is separate from official government consultations and parliamentary Committee proceedings as the marijuana legislation is crafted.
  5. Please note we have added Eugene Oscapella to the witness list, an Ottawa area lawyer and co-founder of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy.

To listen to the audio of this meeting please choose one of the options below:

Floor feed (English and French)

English only

French only