Two to four SQC shops in city
Gatineau prepares for cannabis legalization
With the federal government voting to legalize cannabis as of October 17 this year, cities across the country are preparing to implement and accommodate the new law. “Profound societal changes continue,” says Renée Amyot, Limbour Councillor and chair of Ville en santé. “Past prohibition did not yield the desired results.” This Commission is leading the city’s adaption to this ‘societal change’.
Federal Bill C-45, adopted in June, 2018, sets out its legalization. As with alcohol, only those 18 or over will be able to buy cannabis. Limits for personal possession have been set at 30 grams. And as with cigarettes, packages must carry warnings.
Cannabis can take many forms, including marijuana or hashish. Marijuana is the most popular, and the biggest consumers of it are in the 18-24 age group. Interestingly, the Quebec government notes a slight decrease in use by high school students since 2000. With Bill C-45, the federal government hopes legalization will not lead to an increase in consumption and will not trivialize cannabis and its associated risks. Legalization will take its sale away from criminal organizations.
Three layers of legislation will apply in the city: federal law, Provincial Bill 157, and Gatineau’s own bylaws. Smoking cannabis in public places and parks will be prohibited, but permitted on street-sides, in yards and on balconies. Driving under cannabis influence is prohibited, and, in Quebec, growing it for personal use will be banned, but permitted in the rest of Canada.
When Gatineau’s Plenary Committee voted on June 28, Councillor Mike Duggan was the only member against applying Bill 157 to the letter. “We’re treating marijuana like tobacco, ignoring the fact that is intoxicating,” said the councillor. “With this regulation, people will be able to smoke on the sidewalks as they walk.” Nathalie Lemieux, Touraine Councillor, abstained, as she is against the legalization.
Société québécoise du cannabis
The “Société québécoise du cannabis” will market the product. It is not yet known where it will be sold in Gatineau but it is estimated that there will be two to four locations. They must not be located near Société des Alcools du Québec branches – and must be more than 250 metres from any school.
A year after legalization, the City will review its cannabis management program and make any changes necessary.
A 2016 study, led by the Association pour la santé publique du Québec, revealed that 57% of Quebecers favour legalization. Gatineau, bordering Ontario where the age limit for consumption is different, will find application of the law complicated.
All groups consulted said that every effort must be deployed to inform city and provincial residents of the terms and conditions of the new legislation.
As with tobacco and alcohol, marijuana has health implications. Specialists agree that its consumption under the age of 25 can impact brain development, but cannabis consumption also has therapeutic uses -- reducing some symptoms of chronic pain and aiding sleep problems. Legalization will facilitate research into its further benefits and dangers, commented one doctor to the Bulletin (Transl.: CB)