The rules,

As the clock ticks to­ward le­gal­iza­tion, Andy Riga takes stock of the rules.

Montreal Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - ariga@post­

You’re for­given for be­ing con­fused about the rules sur­round­ing mar­i­juana, which be­comes le­gal for recre­ational use as of Wed­nes­day, Oct. 17.

There’s a fed­eral law, which sets the frame­work for le­gal­iza­tion. Then there’s a Que­bec law adopted by the pro­vin­cial Lib­er­als in June, which François Le­gault’s in­com­ing Coali­tion Avenir Québec gov­ern­ment will soon re­place with yet an­other law.

Que­bec could go from be­ing one of the most per­mis­sive ju­ris­dic­tions to one of the most re­stric­tive.

But the new law will only come af­ter le­gal­iza­tion takes ef­fect and the CAQ has not given a spe­cific time­line for the changes.

Some cities and even bor­oughs are also get­ting in on the act, set­ting rules about where cannabis can be smoked.

And since ev­ery province can set its own cannabis rules, there are even more reg­u­la­tions to keep in mind when trav­el­ling.

As the clock ticks to­ward le­gal­iza­tion, here’s a guide to Que­bec’s cur­rent rules, what is ex­pected to change un­der the CAQ and how the rest of Canada is han­dling some of the thorny is­sues.

Q How old do I have to be to buy cannabis in Que­bec?

A For now, any­one 18 or older will be able to buy it. But the new CAQ gov­ern­ment says it will in­crease the min­i­mum age to 21, point­ing to stud­ies that sug­gest cannabis use can harm young, de­vel­op­ing brains.

Al­berta also chose 18 as the min­i­mum age but all other prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries opted for 19.

Q Where can I con­sume cannabis?

A These rules are com­pli­cated, in flux and may change.

Que­bec’s cur­rent law bars peo­ple from con­sum­ing cannabis wher­ever to­bacco smok­ing is pro­hib­ited, as well as in some other lo­ca­tions.

The long list of places where con­sump­tion is barred in­cludes bars, restau­rants, CÉGEPs, uni­ver­si­ties, sports cen­tres, day­cares, schools, hos­pi­tals, bus shel­ters and within nine me­tres of the doors and win­dows of these places.

Us­age is also for­bid­den in out­door play ar­eas in­tended for chil­dren that are open to the pub­lic, in­clud­ing splash pads, wad­ing pools and skate parks, as well as within nine me­tres of these places.

But Que­bec’s cur­rent law is mute on the topic of other pub­lic spa­ces such as parks and streets, leav­ing that de­tail to cities.

Some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have tried to fill the void — Hamp­stead, West­mount and Que­bec City are re­strict­ing smok­ing in some or all pub­lic spa­ces.

Mon­treal has opted not to pass its own by­law, in­stead stick­ing with pro­vin­cial rules that al­low mar­i­juana use in parks and streets.

How­ever, puff­ing on mar­i­juana will still be ver­boten in some Mon­treal parks.

That’s be­cause five bor­oughs where the Ensem­ble Mon­tréal op­po­si­tion party con­trols lo­cal coun­cils — St-Lau­rent, Pier­re­fonds-Roxboro, St-Léonard, Mon­treal North and Rivière-des-Prairies—Pointe-aux-Trem­bles — say cannabis use should be banned in pub­lic places. This week, St-Lau­rent be­came the first to en­act such a by­law, so start­ing on Day 1, you won’t be able to use any form of cannabis in that bor­ough’s parks or on its streets.

That will cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where on the St-Lau­rent side of a street you can’t smoke cannabis but on the other side — in neigh­bour­ing Ahuntsic-Cartierville, for ex­am­ple — you can puff away.

The CAQ has said the jumble of rules will lead to “chaos,” with peo­ple un­sure which rules ap­ply.

That’s why the CAQ says it plans to im­pose a blan­ket ban on con­sump­tion in all pub­lic places, in­clud­ing parks and streets across the province. How­ever, it has not given a time­line.

Q Where can I buy cannabis? A Twelve So­ciété québé­coise du cannabis stores will open Oct. 17, with an­other three to start sell­ing mar­i­juana be­fore the end of the month.

Of those 15, four are on Mon­treal Is­land. These Mon­treal lo­ca­tions will open on Oct. 17: 970 Ste-Cather­ine St. W., 9250 l’Acadie Blvd. and 6872 St-Hu­bert St. The fourth, 830 Ste-Cather­ine St. E., will open later in Oc­to­ber.

One store will open later this month on the South Shore (9575 Ig­nace St. in Brossard). No stores are planned for Laval.

By year-end, 20 SQDC stores are ex­pected to be in op­er­a­tion across Que­bec.

The SQDC is an off­shoot of Que­bec’s gov­ern­ment-run liquor-store mo­nop­oly, the

So­ciété des al­cools du Québec.

Q What will cannabis stores be like?

A From the street, you won’t be able to see the prod­ucts for sale. In­side, stores will not pro­mote or en­cour­age con­sump­tion via dis­plays, posters, lit­er­a­ture, prod­uct la­bels or ad­vice pro­vided by em­ploy­ees, the SQDC says.

A se­cu­rity guard in the store’s foyer will screen cus­tomers to make sure they meet the age re­stric­tion. Once in­side, buy­ers can get prod­uct in­for­ma­tion from in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays, posters and em­ploy­ees. The prod­uct it­self will be be­hind the counter or in closed glass cases.

Q How much will cannabis cost? A Prices have not been re­vealed but the SQDC says the cheap­est items will cost less than $7 per gram. Que­bec’s prices are ex­pected to be the low­est in Canada.

Q What will be sold at cannabis stores?

A In to­tal, about 150 dif­fer­ent prod­ucts will be avail­able.

Cannabis will be sold in dried, fresh or oil for­mat. You’ll be able to buy pre-rolled joints, mar­i­juana in pill form and ac­ces­sories such as cannabis va­por­iz­ers.

Prod­ucts will be avail­able in 10 dif­fer­ent aro­mas, from food-in­spired ones such as lemon and cheese to quirky ones — skunk and diesel fuel among them. Woody, earthy and flo­ral aro­mas will also be on tap.

Q Will buy­ing cannabis be like wine shop­ping at SAQ stores?

A In some ways, yes. As with wine at the SAQ, cannabis stores will of­fer a wide se­lec­tion of prod­ucts and em­ploy­ees will pro­vide guid­ance.

How­ever, you won’t be able to sam­ple the cannabis prod­ucts.

And, un­like SAQ work­ers, who don’t warn about al­co­hol’s harm­ful ef­fects and the dan­gers of drunk drink­ing, SQDC em­ploy­ees will pro­vide in­for­ma­tion

about the ef­fects and risks of cannabis use.

Q What about on­line sales? A The SQDC’s on­line store will open at 9 a.m. on Oct. 17.

To ac­cept de­liv­ery, con­sumers will have to show ID prov­ing they are at least 18. Pack­ages will not be left unat­tended at the door if no one is home.

Q Will ed­i­bles be sold? A No. The sale of such prod­ucts will still be pro­hib­ited.

Q How much cannabis can I have in my pos­ses­sion?

A In a pub­lic place, you will be al­lowed to pos­sess 30 grams of dried cannabis. That’s the max­i­mum amount you’ll be able to buy at a store. One gram is about the size of a loonie and can pro­duce up to three joints.

At home, up to 150 grams can be kept. That limit ap­plies no mat­ter how many peo­ple live there.

In Que­bec, youth are not al­lowed to pos­sess any cannabis.

Q Can I leave cannabis any­where at home?

A Not if chil­dren can come into con­tact with it. Que­bec’s law calls for a fine of $250 to $750 if you are caught keep­ing cannabis “in an un­safe place eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by mi­nors.”

The Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Poi­son Con­trol Cen­tres says all cannabis prod­ucts should be stored as you would “med­i­ca­tions and other po­ten­tially toxic prod­ucts — locked up and out of reach in child-re­sis­tant pack­ag­ing or con­tain­ers.”

Q Can I grow my own cannabis? A Un­der Que­bec’s law, it is pro­hib­ited to cul­ti­vate cannabis for per­sonal use.

Fed­eral leg­is­la­tion al­lows Cana­di­ans to grow as many as four plants at home for their own con­sump­tion. Ot­tawa has said it has no in­ten­tion of con­test­ing Que­bec’s ban but in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens may ask the courts to strike

down the province’s rule. Q Can I travel with cannabis? A When trav­el­ling in­side Canada, check lo­cal con­sump­tion rules as they may vary. In On­tario, for ex­am­ple, smok­ing it in some pub­lic spa­ces will be per­mit­ted. But New Brunswick says “con­sump­tion of cannabis in any form will be pro­hib­ited any­where but in a pri­vate dwelling or on land ad­ja­cent to a pri­vate dwelling.”

Ot­tawa is warn­ing trav­ellers it’s il­le­gal to take cannabis across Canada’s in­ter­na­tional bor­ders and that trav­el­ling to an­other coun­try with any cannabis could re­sult in crim­i­nal charges.

In ad­di­tion, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment notes, a trav­eller could be de­nied en­try to an­other coun­try if they are in­volved in Canada’s le­gal cannabis in­dus­try or if they have “used cannabis or any sub­stance pro­hib­ited by lo­cal laws.”

Q Can I still buy cannabis from my lo­cal dealer?

A Not legally. Only the SQDC is au­tho­rized to sell recre­ational cannabis in Que­bec.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment says dis­plac­ing the il­le­gal mar­ket is one of the goals of le­gal­iza­tion.

Q Can I use cannabis at work? A Con­sump­tion is pro­hib­ited in work­places, ex­cept some work­places lo­cated in a pri­vate res­i­dence. In some sit­u­a­tions — dan­ger­ous work­places, for ex­am­ple — em­ploy­ers can con­duct ran­dom drug tests.

Q Can I smoke cannabis in my apart­ment or condo?

A It de­pends on your lease or condo rules. If there is al­ready a no-smok­ing rule, then, no, you can’t smoke mar­i­juana.

Un­der Que­bec’s cannabis law, within 90 days of le­gal­iza­tion a land­lord can change the lease con­di­tions by adding a pro­hi­bi­tion against smok­ing cannabis. With con­dos, rules can be changed if a ma­jor­ity of home­own­ers agree.

Q Can I drive af­ter con­sum­ing cannabis?

A No. Cannabis im­pairs your abil­ity to drive. And if you’re caught, you could lose your li­cence and face a stiff fine and a crim­i­nal record.

Po­lice who sus­pect some­one is driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs can ask the mo­torist to per­form a se­ries of phys­i­cal co­or­di­na­tion tests fo­cused on eye move­ment, walk­ing and bal­ance, Mon­treal po­lice say.

Fail these tests and a po­lice of­fi­cer will ar­rest you and take you to a po­lice sta­tion where you will un­dergo more co-or­di­na­tion tests and pro­vide a urine sam­ple for anal­y­sis.

If con­victed of driv­ing while im­paired by drugs, the penal­ties are the same as for drunk driv­ing, Que­bec’s auto-in­surance board says. For a first of­fence that means a crim­i­nal record, a min­i­mum $1,000 fine and driv­ers’ li­cence sus­pen­sion for a min­i­mum of one year.

Q Where can I get more in­for­ma­tion?

Que­bec cannabis sales: in­fo­ Que­bec’s cur­rent cannabis law:

en­cadrement­ The fed­eral law:


An artist’s de­pic­tion of Queb ec’s cannab is stores. From the street, you won’t b e ab le to see the prod­ucts for sale. A se­cu­rity guard in the store’s foyer will screen cus­tomers.


Mon­treal Mayor Valérie Plante spelled out the city’s rules for cannab is use ear­lier this week. Mon­treal has opted not to pass its own b ylaw, in­stead stick­ing with pro­vin­cial rules that al­low mar­i­juana use in parks and streets.


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