Legal cannabis won't cause major leap in usage, says P.E.I. senator

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Senate passes marijuana bill with 46 amendments.

The legalization of cannabis will not result in a dramatic increase in usage, says P.E.I. Senator Diane Griffin.

Griffin made the comments after Bill C-45 passed the Senate on Thursday night with 46 amendments.

"Anyone who thinks all of a sudden the gates are going to be wide open to marijuana use is daydreaming," Griffin said on CBC's Island Morning.

"A lot of people have been using it for many years, especially young people, and they were being criminalized for it."

Griffin and fellow Island senator Percy Downe voted in favour of the cannabis bill, while Mike Duffy did not register a vote.

'We were at this all week'

The bill passed by a vote of 56-30, with one abstention.

It will now go back to the House of Commons for deliberation on the amendments. The provinces have asked for 12 weeks to prepare for retail sales after the bill receives royal assent.

It was the most vigorous debate Griffin has participated in since she joined the Senate, she said.

"We were at this all week with amendments being made,"  she said.

Public safety an 'important factor'

Along with the end of criminalization for people using the drug, Griffin said she also supports legalization to eliminate impurities in the black market.

"It wasn't a guaranteed product. Now the product will be to certain specifications, so public safety is a really important factor in this bill," she said.

The C-45 cannabis bill passed the Senate Thursday night and will now go back to the House of Commons.

"That's very important for provincial authorities to have that autonomy — after all, most land use decisions are made by the provincial or municipal governments," Griffin said.

'More work to be done'

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey said cannabis will be retailed in P.E.I. by the end of the year.

"It seems to me we're pretty much on the same page in terms of the implementation. I don't see a concern with where P.E.I. is in its preparations," said Casey.

The Liberal caucus in the house will now look at the proposed amendments, Casey said.

"There's more work to be done, clearly," he said.

"We've got to look at amendments and which ones we can support as a government. This was part of our platform, so it will be a caucus decision, I would think."

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