Canada is slated to legalize recreational cannabis on July 1, 2018, after the federal government handed down its approval in April. And just last week, the Quebec government unveiled its long-awaited regulatory framework, which will govern the sale and the distribution of the substance once it is finally legal.
According to Quebec’s Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois, the regulatory plan is an evolving one and requires a level of flexibility.
Key points of the plan
Legal age. Under the regulatory plan, the legally allowed age for people to buy, possess, and consume cannabis is 18, which is also Quebec’s legal drinking age.
Cultivation. Nobody can grow cannabis, whether it is for personal use or for commercial purposes. Those who violate this will have to pay fines. For example, those caught growing up to four plants could be fined $250-$750 for the first offence. The fines to be imposed for subsequent offences will be doubled.
Possession limit. Adults should not have in their person more than 250 grams of dried cannabis in a place other than a public place.
Where to smoke. Weed can be smoked only in the same places where smoking tobacco or cigarettes is allowed. Closed smoking rooms would be allowed, too, in certain cases, including in health establishments, common areas for residential buildings, and seniors’ residences.
Smoking is not permitted on university grounds, bars, restaurants, workplaces, and just about any place where people gather. You can also not smoke within a 9-meter radius of building entrances.
No driving after using. Drivers will be afforded zero tolerance when it comes to cannabis use. Police officers can request for a saliva sample if they suspect that a driver is high while on the road. They can also suspend a person’s driver’s license for a period of 90 days if the test for weed comes back positive.
Where to buy marijuana. Quebec will create the SQC or Société québécoise du cannabis, which will sell marijuana through stores and a website. The SQC chain will initially have 15 retail stores, and each outlet will be located not more than a to-be-specified distance from places that are frequented by minors as well as by vulnerable clienteles.
Also, initially, Canada Post will take care of delivering online cannabis orders and will make sure that buyers are over 18 years old. Later on, other delivery companies could do deliveries.
Moreover, the SQC will be an arm of the province’s monopoly liquor store chain, the Société des alcools du Québec. It will be allowed to sell cannabis oil, dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, cannabis accessories, cannabis concentrates, and specialized cannabis publications. The plan also states that the SQC could sell any other cannabis class determined by government regulation, including edible and non-edible products.
Quebec and other provinces call for one-year delay in legalization
It can be recalled that premiers from several provinces had earlier called for a delay in the roll-out and implementation of the new legislation due to traffic safety and health concerns. This is also to give them time to fix the inconsistencies in cannabis laws across Canada.
Quebec now joins in and also requests for a one-year delay of the roll-out.
Charlebois expressed earlier concerns that the federal government was forcing provinces to act on the new law too fast. Furthermore, the question on who would shoulder the costs of implementing the new recreational cannabis law remains to be settled.
According to Charlebois, there is little possibility that the delay is going to be granted, although one more year to get everything in order would be very helpful.
According to Polls, Quebec citizens share Charlebois’ concerns and show that, compared with Canadians in other provinces, they are more skeptical about adult-use cannabis. Quebec citizens’ main concern is having more road accidents.