Senate defeats Conservative bid to impose blanket ban on homegrown marijuana

OTTAWA — The Senate has rejected an attempt to prohibit Canadians from growing a small number of marijuana plants at home once recreational cannabis is legalized.

Conservative Sen. Vern White proposed Thursday an amendment to Bill C-45 that would have banned home cultivation entirely across the country.

The amendment was defeated by a vote of 40-33.

Another Conservative senator, Claude Carignan, then proposed an amendment that would have restricted home cultivation to inside a dwelling, banning Canadians from growing pot plants in their yards.

That too was defeated, by a vote of 40-31.

The Conservatives voted as a block in favour of both amendments but persuaded only a handful of independent senators to back them.

Senators had already accepted 40 amendments proposed earlier this week by the Senate’s social affairs committee. One of those amendments would authorize provinces and territories to ban home cultivation if they choose — as Quebec and Manitoba intend to do — or restrict the number of plants even further than the proposed four per dwelling allowed under the bill as originally drafted.

A number of senators said they share White’s concern that homegrown pot plants could make cannabis more accessible to children, lead to environmental health problems from excessive humidity and mould and cause problems in multiple-unit dwellings.

But they said letting provinces decide for themselves whether to ban home cultivation is a reasonable compromise.

“I think in the end it is a Canadian compromise,” said independent Sen. Andre Pratte.

Pratte also argued allowing some home cultivation is a matter of social equity, pointing out that home-grown weed may be the only option for Canadians in remote areas or for those with limited incomes.

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