Quebec legislation Cannabis – Laws on selling, growing, smoking
Quebec legislation Cannabis – It is going to please some people, but it is going to anger just as many people as well. In the National Assembly on November 16th, Quebec finally revealed their proposed legislation on the distribution, sale and use of cannabis. It is not expected to be officially adopted before the government Christmas break on December 8th, but no changes are really anticipated.
The laws are rigid – possibly rigid enough to make proponents and users of cannabis scratching their heads wondering why they bothered at all, while opponents will be appeased to some degree.
Quebecers will not be able to grow their own cannabis at home and there will be zero tolerance for driving under the influence of pot, for up to four hours after smoking or consuming any of it. Drivers will not be allowed to refuse a saliva test if pulled over by the police – and if any amount is detected, they will immediately have their license suspended for 90 days. If causing an accident under the influence, drivers can be immediately arrested.
With the announcement, came Bill 157 – an act to constitute the ‘Société Québécoise du Cannabis’ (SQC), which will be under the umbrella of the Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ), who has the complete monopoly over the purchase and sales of any cannabis products and will be establishing stores across the province, as well as managing online sales. The legal age to buy and use cannabis will be 18 years of age, so therefore anyone under 18 will not be allowed into the stores or to purchase online.
Canada Postal workers, who already deliver legal medicinal cannabis for the government, are in position to work with the SAQ for their online sales. Before handing over the package, the postal employee would check identification to confirm the customer is of legal age, then ask to see proof of the online purchase before giving them the package. But this has already caused a stir on social media concerning the safety of postal workers.
As well, the same restrictions applying to smoking tobacco in public places will also apply to cannabis. Pot smokers will have to keep a determined distance from public buildings and clubs. Smoking pot will be banned in places like bus shelters, arenas, parks or near community centers, elementary and secondary schools. Consuming it on University and CEGEP campuses will also be forbidden.
The private sector, especially those who have already opened quasi-illegal cannabis stores or who are poised to do so, have been left out entirely from the huge business of pot. In fact, they were not even given a blink in the legislation, with the government sealing the deal on complete control over aspect involved. The expected price per gram of government controlled pot is about $8 per gram – but add on the Federal and Provincial sales taxes and a federally proposed ‘Excise Tax’ of $1 per gram, that could bring the price up to over $10, perhaps more.
The concern here is whether government controlled cannabis will be able to compete with the black market. The initial reason behind legalizing cannabis was to end illicit sales and the crime connected with it. If the price on the street is lower, not being able to grow your own plants at home and having to pay higher prices to buy it through the SAQ, what is there to stop people from the black market and organized crime? Teenagers will still have easy access to cannabis – and the potential dangers involved in both consumption and dealing with drug dealers.
There is still the Quebec government’s motion introduced in the National Assembly on Wednesday, asking for the date to legalize marijuana be changed to July 1st 2019. The extra year would allow the province to fine tune their legislation and possible address controversial issues in the bill. This can potentially open or close the doors to the province’s plans.
What is your opinion or insight on Quebec’s legislation? Has it gone too far or not far enough?