Quebec Government Tables Bill to Ban Public Cannabis Use, Increase Legal Age to 21

When the Canadian province of Quebec elected the right-wing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) in October 2018, many worried about how the new government would affect the impending legalization of marijuana. 

Now, it looks like the CAQ is fulfilling its promise to make the province’s cannabis policy more restrictive. 

On Wednesday, the provincial government tabled leglislation - titled Bill 2 - that would raise the legal minimum age for cannabis use from 18 to 21, and to prohibit all cannabis use in public. The CAQ had campaigned on these promises.

The CAQ’s junior health minister Lionel Carmant told a news conference that the goal of the new legislation is to "delay the first consumption [of cannabis] as much as possible," according to CTV News.

Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal - Québec’s largest city - has spoken out against the bill. "They are saying to youth, go and get your stuff from organized crime," Plante told reporters, according to the Montréal Gazette. She also pointed out that "sixty per cent" of Montrealers are renters, and that "the message they are getting is cannabis is legal but you cannot consume it at home or in public spaces."

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that "an 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."

Yet the federal government will not intervene with the Quebec government’s latest move. "It's entirely the responsibility of the province of Quebec to choose the age of consumption," said federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

Banner image: David Chapman / GettyImages

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