In a landmark vote last Thursday, the Canadian Senate voted to pass C-45, legalizing adult-use cannabis across Canada. Crucially, the legislation gives individual provinces a great deal of latitude to set their own rules for cannabis operations within their boundaries. And further, the Senate added amendments to the bill that give provinces even more control. The Canadian government still has to weigh in on those changes, so the particulars of the final bill could change.
On Tuesday, however, the government of Quebec passed their province’s own cannabis laws. These laws will impact consumers and businesses in a major way and shape the industry landscape. Here’s everything you need to know about Quebec cannabis laws and how they’ll affect you.
How Will Quebec Cannabis Laws Impact Consumers?
Quebec just passed a law laying out the province’s rules for cannabis. Here’s how they impact consumers.
One of the most immediate impacts of Quebec’s new cannabis laws is how old consumers need to be to legally buy cannabis. The legal age for cannabis consumption was, in fact, a serious point of contention in debates over the shape Quebec’s laws would take.
The federal bill sets the legal age for cannabis consumption at 18. Quebec’s Liberal Party, which holds a majority, supports that age. As does the party to their left, Québec solidaire. Both parties voted in favor of Bill 157.
But the province’s opposition parties, Parti Québécois and the conservative Coalition Avenir Québec, proposed a minimum age of 21. Disagreements over age requirements ultimately led both parties to vote against the legislation.
So in Quebec, consumers will have to show ID proving they are 18 years or older to purchase, possess, and use cannabis.
Purchase and Possession Limits
Quebec’s personal limits for cannabis are fairly generous. On private property, Quebecers can possess up to 150 grams of dried cannabis. That’s about one-third of a pound, or a little more than five and one-quarter ounces.
The rules also set single purchase limits. Consumers can buy a maximum 30 grams or a little more than an ounce of cannabis in a single transaction.
Consumers Can Smoke In Public
Another point of dispute among members of the National Assembly was the issue of public smoking. The rules that ultimately ended up passing treat cannabis smoking similarly to tobacco smoking.
Cannabis users can smoke anywhere tobacco smoking is allowed. But users cannot smoke cannabis on or near school property, public buildings, parks or other public facilities.
The law’s liberal stance on public cannabis consumption was the reason Parti Québécois opposed Bill 175. PQ leader Jean François Lisée came out against the rules, saying the government should do more to ban cannabis smoking in public places, reports the CBC.
Where Consumers Can Get Cannabis
For now, the law prohibits Quebecers from growing their own cannabis at home. This provincial rule overrides the federal law, which allows Canadians to grow up to four plants at home for personal use. But one of the amendments the Canadian Senate made before passing legalization gave provinces the last word on home grows.
As a result, the only legal commercial establishment where consumers can buy cannabis are government-owned dispensaries, controlled by the newly created Société Québécois du Cannabis (SQDC). In addition, Quebecers can order cannabis online as soon as legal sales take effect.
How Will Quebec Cannabis Laws Impact Cannabis Businesses?
The government of Quebec’s tight control over the sale and distribution of cannabis means the province’s cannabis industry will be very different from other provinces.
No Privately-Owned Stores In Quebec
One of the most significant impacts of Quebec cannabis laws is its effect on private cannabis companies. The government’s liquor board, the SAQ, will have complete oversight over the sale and distribution of cannabis. Furthermore, all sales will be carried out by the SQDC.
The law makes Quebec the only province to prohibit privately-run stores. Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and other provinces have all agreed to let private retailers set up shop.
Ultimately, Quebec’s restrictions on private cannabis companies mean Canada’s largest cannabis producers will establish retail operations elsewhere. Quebec’s Liberal government says the laws are about public health, not ensuring private companies turn a profit.
Quebec Cannabis Laws
The SQDC will open 20 government-run stores across Quebec. Dispensaries, however, will not be near any parks or schools or within 1 kilometer of any other dispensary. The government plans to open some dispensaries in metro stations.
So to sum up. If you’re a consumer, you must be 18 to purchase and consume cannabis. You can smoke weed anywhere you can smoke tobacco, except around schools and public places. You can’t grow your own cannabis, but you can buy about an ounce at a time. If you’re a business, you’re not going to have the chance to set up retail locations in Quebec.