A Liberal clause in the marijuana legalization bill would have put Canadians before a prosecutor if their pot plants grew more than one meter tall. Fortunately, a Commons health committee dropped it on Tuesday. Critics had called the provision arbitrary, with a high potential to cause even more headaches for police and cultivators alike.
For example, a report leaked from the police and corrections ministry in Ontario noted outright that “people could be criminalized for small amounts of overproduction” under the Liberals’ clause. Don Davies, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament, called the one-meter law “very difficult to enforce.” Anyone who has ever had a weed plant knows how fast it can grow out of control.
“Cultivators might break the law simply by providing fertilizer and water and going away for a week’s vacation,” Davies explained. It is good that folks were paying attention, because the rule, as written originally, would send people to jail for up to 14 years just for letting their plants get too tall, or at least on paper anyway. The restriction of four plants per household remains intact.
“I do not think we want the police officers of this nation to be walking around with meter sticks attached to their holsters,” Davies pointed out, “going into Canadians’ houses and measuring plants to see if they are 99 centimeters or 101 centimeters.” The image of officers carting meter sticks around is not only a laughable one but also highly impractical in reality too.
Over the past several weeks, Members of Parliament on the committee have been listening to testimonies. They heard that restricting the height of plants has a limited impact on bud size and that reducing height would choke production of usable buds. However, it is possible for growers to favor short, dense plants, such as many Indica strains, or train them for sideways growth instead.
Marilyn Gladu, Conservative Member of Parliament, predicted that private home grows would fuel the illegal black market system of production once legalization came into effect. “Organized crime does get into home grow,” she opined. “That is what happened in Colorado. This is problematic for all the Canadians that do not want these unintended consequences.”
“You can have up to 600 grams of marijuana hanging around the house with no provision for lockup,” Gladu continued. “That is definitely not going to keep it out of the hands of children.” This is one of the several concerns among the Conservatives, who unanimously and emphatically oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada.
The amendment passed on a party-line vote. Conservatives were the opponents, with the New Democratic Party and Liberals supporting it. In its original written form, Canada’s rules for home cultivation would have been stricter than any jurisdiction permitting it anywhere in northern America. Although Washington State legalized recreational marijuana, it does not allow cultivation at home.
The version the committee approved is essentially the same as the one Oregon implemented. In Colorado, legal adults have the legal right to grow up to six plants at home, with no more than three of them mature at the same time, and no more than 12 plants in any given household. Oregon, on the other hand, has a limit of four plants, which incentivizes growers to make them as big as possible.
Canada would not necessarily permit grows of this scale outdoors. Under rules that Alberta announced just this Wednesday past, all home cultivation must occur indoors, either inside residences or in greenhouses. Additionally, all Canadians will be subject to a limit of 30 grams of dried marijuana per adult, which will restrict the quantity of bud that they can produce or dry legally at home.