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Senate leadership agrees to timetable on cannabis bill

Under the agreed upon timetable, the Senate will hold a final vote at third reading on or before June 7.

Senate leaders have agreed to a legislative timetable that will lead to a final vote on Bill C-45, legislation that would legalize and regulate of cannabis, on or before June 7.

“This should give stakeholders, governments, businesses, law enforcement agencies and other Canadians a timeline for how and when the bill will be ultimately dealt with by the Upper Chamber,” said Sen. Peter Harder, the Government Representative in the Senate, on Thursday.

“I thank leaders of all groups in the Senate for the spirit of cooperation they’ve shown in coming to this agreement.”

The agreement—between Sen. Harder, Senate Opposition Leader Larry Smith, Independent Senators Group Facilitator Yuen Pau Woo and Independent Senate Liberal Leader Joseph Day—removes the immediate need for a time allocation vote on the bill. Sen. Harder had previously suggested time allocation to give Canadians more clarity on the bill’s timeline through the Senate.

Under the timetable, leaders agreed that the Senate would hold a final vote on third reading of the bill on or before June 7.

The agreement also stipulates that a vote on second reading will take place on or before March 22, after which the bill would move to the committee stage, where bills receive focussed scrutiny and benefit from witnesses and outside experts.

The Senate leaders also established key dates for completion of committee study on the bill.

Furthermore, the Senate agreed to leverage the expertise of five Senate committees for an in-depth consideration of the legislation.

Senator Harder had initially proposed to have the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee review the legalization framework in its entirety, while the Aboriginal Peoples Committee would zero in on Indigenous issues and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee would focus on criminal measures. After a discussion with leadership, he amended his motion to include two additional committees to the study: the National Security and Defence Committee and the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee. The Senate adopted the motion on Thursday.

Sen. Harder had been concerned with the pace of the bill as it makes its way through the Senate process. The cannabis bill has been in the Senate since Nov. 28.

Senate leadership agrees to timetable on cannabis bill