• John Jantak

Quebec reviewing briefs ahead of eventual cannabis legalization


YLJ FILE PHOTO/JOHN JANTAK

Soulanges MNA and Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois said the province is striving to implement the best possible legislation by making sure its laws regarding the sale, consumption, and other aspects related to the legalization of cannabis by the federal government are in accordance with the unique characteristics of the Province of Quebec.

The provincial government is presently reviewing briefs and comments that were presented by various organizations and the public as it tries to determine the best legislation it should enact to coincide with the eventual legalization of marijuana across Canada in 2018.

Soulanges MNA and provincial Public Health and Healthy Living Minister Lucie Charlebois attended the many public consultation sessions that were held across the province over a three-week period which ended on September 12 to gauge public opinion on the matter. People were also able to provide their feedback on the province’s official website.

Not opposed to legalization

Charlebois said Quebec is not opposed to the legalization of cannabis but is striving to implement the best possible legislation by making sure its laws regarding the sale, consumption and other aspects including the minimum age of use are in accordance with the unique characteristics of the province.

“We are following what the federal government is doing so that we can be ready on a provincial level when it’s legalized. It’s not whether we support the federal legislation because it’s a matter of jurisdiction, but we will enact legislation that is unique to our territorial requirements,” Charlebois told Your Local Journal during a telephone interview from Quebec City.

“A lot of people want to make sure the province has adequate laws in place to ensure it’s controlled properly. It’s about making sure the public’s and our young people’s health are protected and that adequate public security measures are in place on a provincial level when marijuana is legalized,” Charlebois added.

As Public Health Minister, Charlebois is also aware of the possible consequences related to cannabis consumption especially among young people. “It’s not an innocent drug and we will have to implement the right measures to provide access to cannabis while ensuring people aren’t put in danger. We’re working to try and find the right balance,” she said.

Federal stance

Peter Schiefke, the federal Liberal MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, held a similar public information forum last month to gather feedback from his constituents. He was joined by Louis Hébert riding MP Joël Lightbound, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health.

Schiefke explained that the federal government is moving ahead with its initiative to legalize cannabis because the current system of prohibition does not work. He said that several million dollars are spent annually on law enforcement which places a burden on the judicial system for the illegal possession, sale and consumption of marijuana.

Another important aspect of the new legislation is to keep cannabis out of the hands of organized criminal elements, said Schiefke. Having the production and sale of marijuana under government control would help to reduce the dangers to public health by ensuring that consumers would not be exposed to possible dangerous additives such as PCP from illegal sources.

The federal legislation will also prohibit the sale and use of cannabis by anyone under the age of 18. Anyone caught selling marijuana to a minor will be arrested and face a possible 14-year prison sentence.

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