Cannabis industry players and investors alike are waiting anxiously for the results of a Senate vote Thursday evening, which will determine the fate of the Liberal government’s proposed marijuana legislation. Although sources say the vote could be tight, equity research analyst Vahan Ajamian says that even without a whip on independent senators in the Red Chamber and Conservative senators voting en masse, the bill is still likely to pass.
Tonight, the Senate will vote on its second reading of Bill C-45, the so-called Cannabis Act, which would effectively legalize the recreational use of marijuana and, in the process, give birth to a whole new (legal) sector of the economy.
A majority of the 105 senators are reportedly in favour of the criminal code amendment but with a number of independently-sitting senators currently out of Ottawa on committee work and with 33 Conservative senators promising to vote together against the bill, the count could be tighter than expected.
If a bill gets defeated at second reading, the legislation is effectively dead, leaving the Liberal government no choice but to wait and propose new legislation during the next session. That would almost certainly kill the idea of a legal recreational market opening up this summer and put a damper on the plans of a number of cannabis cultivators and their investors.
But, speaking with BNN, Ajamian of investment dealer Beacon Securities says that’s likely not going to happen and that the bill will pass, in part because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party would likely have already impressed upon Liberal and independent senators alike the fact that the act represents a central campaign promise that both PM and party would want to push ahead with.
“The current system does not work,” said Trudeau recently at an event in New Brunswick. “This is not something that Canadians want to see continued.”
Nevertheless, Conservative senators have so far been vocal in opposition to the bill, questioning especially the speed at which the government is attempting to push through C-45 and its associated legislation on impaired driving, Bill C-46.
“Both bills are shoddily constructed and raise a myriad of unanswered questions that will lead to unintended and devastating consequences,” said Conservative Saskatchewan Sen. Denise Batters on Tuesday. “Honourable senators, this is too high a price for Canadians to pay simply to satisfy Prime Minister Trudeau’s political ambitions. For all of these reasons, I will vote against Bill C-45 at second reading.”
“We, the select few with sober second thought, should not consider saying ‘yes’ to this odious legislation until we, on behalf of all Canadians, have all the answers,” said Conservative Alberta Sen. Betty Unger. “I believe that, at a minimum, an intensive four-year education blitz should begin now before any government contemplates legislation.”
If passed, Bill C-45 will move onto a third Senate reading scheduled for early June, after which the government has suggested a period of eight to 12 weeks to allow various retail networks to get up and running, altogether pushing the date of first sale sometime into August