A clause in the Liberals’ marijuana legalization bill that would have seen Canadians face prosecution if their marijuana plants grew taller than one metre was dropped by the Commons health committee Tuesday.
The provision had been criticized as arbitrary, and a potential headache for both growers and police.
A leaked report from Ontario’s police and corrections ministry, for example, pointed out that “people could be criminalized for small amounts of overproduction” under the rule.
NDP MP Don Davies called the one-metre rule “very difficult to enforce … Cultivators might break the law simply by providing fertilizer and water and going away for a week’s vacation.”
It would have been worth paying attention — as the law was originally written, people who let their plants get too tall faced up to 14 years in prison, at least on paper.
A limit of four plants per household will remain.
“I don’t think we want the police officers of this nation to be walking around with metre sticks attached to their holsters, going into Canadians’ houses and measuring plants to see if they’re 99 or 101 centimetres,” Davies said.
In testimony over the past few weeks, MPs on the committee had heard that restricting plant height has a limited relationship to restricting the production of usable buds. Growers can favour dense, short plants, or train them to grow sideways.
WATCH: Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Wednesday that the aim of the 30 gram public possession limit was to target black market traffickers, not those who simply enjoy a lot of marijuana.
Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu predicted that home grows would become part of a black market production system after legalization.
“Organized crime does get into home grow,” she said. “That’s what happened in Colorado. This is problematical for all the Canadians that don’t want these unintended consequences.”
“You can have up to 600 grams of marijuana hanging around in the house with no provision for lockup. That’s definitely not going to keep it out of the hands of children.”
The Conservatives oppose recreational marijuana legalization.
The amendment was passed on a party-line vote, with the NDP and Liberals in favour and the Conservatives opposed.
As originally written, Canada’s home-grow rules would have been the strictest among North American jurisdictions that allow them. (Washington state allows recreational marijuana but not home grows.)
The version that made it through committee will be essentially the same as Oregon’s. (Colorado allows up to six plants per adult, no more than three mature, and no more than 12 plants overall per household.)
However, Oregon’s four-plant limit has encouraged growers there to cultivate the most immense marijuana plants possible.
Here is a garden in southern Oregon which could really be described as a marijuana orchard:
Outdoor grows on this scale wouldn’t necessarily be allowed in Canada: under Alberta’s rules, announced Wednesday, home grows would have to be indoors or in greenhouses.
Also, Canadians will be limited to 30 grams of dried cannabis per adult, which will limit the amount of bud that could legally be produced or at least dried for consumption, at home.
WATCH: Pot activists in B.C. are very critical of Ontario’s proposal to sell recreational marijuana when it’s legalized next year. So all eyes will be on the B.C. government to see how Friday’s announcement could influence how it’s sold in this province. Nadia Stewart explains the backlash.