Government threatens to cut off Senate debate on pot as July deadline looms

Government threatens to cut off Senate debate on pot as July deadline looms

OTTAWA – The Trudeau government is moving to ensure the Senate doesn’t hold up its plans to legalize recreational marijuana in July.

The government’s representative in the upper house, Sen. Peter Harder, wants second reading debate on Bill C-45 wrapped up by March 1, after which it would go to committee for detailed examination.

If the various Senate factions won’t agree to that timetable — in particular, Conservative senators who’ve been stalling the bill’s progress since November — Harder warns he’ll move a motion to impose time allocation to cut off debate, the first time he’s threatened to resort to that tactic since taking on the role of government representative two years ago.

The move comes a week after Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told senators that provincial governments will need two to three months after the bill receives royal assent to prepare for retail sales of cannabis.

She insisted the government is still on track to legalize weed this July but didn’t clarify whether she meant it would actually be available for sale at that time or that the bill would have received royal assent by then; officials later said that would depend on how quickly C-45 gets through the Senate.

Harder’s move to speed up the glacial pace of the bill through the Senate suggests the government is hoping to have cannabis available for sale in July.

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