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Quebec Tables Law to Raise Age to 21, Ban Public Cannabis

Wednesday, December 5th 2018

Quebec’s new government, led by the conservative CAQ party, tabled Bill 2, the legislation to raise the minimum age for cannabis from 18 to 21, and ban cannabis from all public places, including parks. (CTV News)

  • “I want to send a very clear message to young people,” said Premier François Legault. “Consuming cannabis is dangerous. It can cause serious problems like schizophrenia. So please, don’t consume it.” (La Presse—In French)
  • It is only the second bill the CAQ has tabled since coming to power October 1.
  • The MNA who introduced the bill, Lional Carmant, is also a pediatric neurologist and is concerned about cannabis’s effect on young people’s brains. In spite of demands from Liberal Opposition Leader Sébastien Proulx for “wide consultations,” the CAQ parliamentary leader Simon Jolin-Barrette (who developed the party’s “hard line” against cannabis) said the CAQ would allow only short consultations. (Le Devoir--In French)
  • As I noted last week, the CAQ asked the Ministry of Health and the Quebec Institute of Public Health to provide research to justify the plan to raise the age, and were instead delivered documents concluding the age of 18 as it was implemented would be best for health and legal reasons.
  • A number of Quebec physicians, public health scholars, and criminologists signed an open letter denouncing the plan to raise the age as built on cannabis myths rather than science. (Journal de Québec—In French)
  • Contrary to scholars and scientists, a majority of Quebeckers polled in November wanted the age raised above 18. (Montreal Gazette)
  • In a press release, the Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists applauded the move, saying it believed "any measure to push back the age of first cannabis consumption is favourable to the health of young Quebeckers."
  • The blanket ban on public use will end the chaotic and confusing patchwork map of Montreal boroughs that allow cannabis use in public versus those that have banned it. (Journal de Montréal, La Presse—Both in French)
  • The bill will first go through committee examination, meaning adults below 21 will continue to be able to purchase cannabis for some time into 2019. (Montreal Gazette)