The Quebec government has just passed a new law that imposes some of the strictest cannabis regulations in all of Canada, a contentious decision that critics believe will allow the country's black market to flourish.
On Tuesday, the Quebec National Assembly approved Bill 2, a new law that raises the legal cannabis consumption age from 18 to 21, effective on January 1st, 2020. Every other province has set the legal age for consumption at 19, except for Alberta, where it is 18. Lionel Carmant, the province's junior health minister, explained that this change was made to “protect our teenagers, which are most vulnerable to cannabis," according to CBC News.
This decision has already drawn criticism by public health experts, local cannabis producers, and even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself. When the age limit increase was proposed last year, Trudeau argued that the rules would force young adults to turn “to the Hells Angels to buy” their weed. The Quebec Association of the Cannabis Industry (AQIC) also agreed that this age limit will “push the most vulnerable consumers to the black market,” Global News reports.
The AQIC, which represents over 25 of the province's legal cannabis producers, said the new law violates two of the main goals of legalization: destroying the black market and improving public safety.
"We believe that Quebecers should have access to legal products that are controlled, properly labelled, packaged safely, and distributed by professionals who can properly inform consumers, not by the local drug dealer," Michel Timperio, AQIC president, said in a statement reported by the Canadian Press.
Gallery — Smoking Weed in the Snow Is the Best:
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesperson for the opposition party Quebec Solidaire, said that the new law is “a paternalistic approach towards young people in Quebec," according to the Canadian Press. "[Carmant] talks about protecting children, he talks about protecting adolescents, but he seems to forget that Quebecers aged 18-years-old, 19-years-old, and 20-years-old are adults in Quebec and Canada." Canadians aged 18 and older are able to vote and drink alcohol.
The new law also bans all public consumption of cannabis, effective on November 1 of this year. Individual cities will be allowed to create their own ordinances allowing specific public areas to be set aside for public cannabis use, as long as children are prohibited from these public weed spaces. The new law also bans any cannabis edibles that could possibly appeal to minors, including chocolate, candies, and desserts.
The original draft of this regulation also banned all home cultivation of cannabis, but in September, a Quebec Superior Court Justice ruled that this restriction infringed upon the jurisdiction of the federal government. The province's government remains committed to preventing its residents from growing their own weed, however, and intend to challenge this ruling.