A year after federal Canadian cannabis legalization, Quebec is finalizing its new cannabis laws. New regulations have curtailed access in ways some consumers are not happy about. On Tuesday, the province government voted to ban most marijuana edibles, prohibit cannabis use in public spaces, and raise the legal age to purchase to 21, the highest in the country.
The legislation was opposed by all political parties except for the Coalition Avenir Québec, which is currently in power. Public health agencies have opined that the age restriction is unlikely to keep young people from consuming cannabis. The ban on public consumption, officials say, will put tenants of properties where marijuana has been prohibited at a disadvantage.
“It’s concerning,” said the spokesperson for the province’s health agency, Marianne Dessureault, on the heightened age restriction, which inspired a junior health minister to consider raising the drinking age as well. “It’s clear that [the bill] has a populist appeal and that it doesn’t have its place in public health policy.”
Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also came out against the age restriction, saying, “[A]n 18-year-old this week could buy cannabis legally, but in a few months maybe he’ll just have to buy it from Hells Angels.”
“We really want to protect our teenagers, which are most vulnerable to cannabis,” said Quebec’s junior health minister Lionel Carmant, in regards to the legislation which set the age of marijuana consent.
Bill Draws Public Opposition
A handful of Dawson College students were interviewed by a Canadian news site on the new policy. “I think categorizing [cannabis] as something that’s much more detrimental to you [than alcohol] is not fair, and it’s not accurate, and it’s sending a wrong message,” said Mia Jodorcovsky. Others questioned the wisdom of setting the legal age to buy cannabis three years after the legal age to vote.
The bill to raise the age limit to 21 was introduced last December at the same time as legislation to ban the consumption of marijuana in public spaces. Prior to the regulation, cannabis was limited by the same laws that apply to smoking tobacco, which ban its use on school campuses, day cares, hospitals, and other sites.
Protecting the kids is the reasoning behind the edibles regulations as well, which prohibit the sale of anything sweet. No brownies, no cookies, no sweetened drinks — and no gummies. The new rules were forecasted by Health Canada earlier this summer.
The jury is still out on what this will mean for savory snacks like popcorn and other cracker-like items. What will be on the menu are drinks like non-alcoholic beer, mineral water, and tea.
Now that regulations have been clarified, companies can begin the process of having their products approved by the government. Though edibles technically became legal October 17, it is unlikely that they will be available for purchase until December.
Happily, a ban on growing one’s own cannabis that was originally included in the age limit legislation has been ruled unconstitutional by a Quebec superior court justice in September. Residents of the province are now allowed to grow up to four plants in their homes, the limit that has been established by Canada’s federal cannabis legislation.