Que­bec Le­gal Age for Pot will be 18 - Looks to SAQ for 'Ex­per­tise'

Montreal Times - - News - By: Bon­nie Wurst / mtl­times.ca

Although the Que­bec gov­ern­ment has yet to re­veal its full plan for the reg­u­la­tion of sales, dis­tri­bu­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing of cannabis - it has an­nounced the le­gal min­i­mum age to buy and con­sume pot will be 18 years old. As well, the sale of cannabis will be con­trolled by the So­ciété des al­cools du Québec (SAQ).

Health or­ga­ni­za­tions and med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als want the min­i­mum age for mar­i­juana to be 21 years old - be­cause of re­search show­ing its po­ten­tially neg­a­tive ef­fect on the de­vel­op­ing brains of youth up un­til the age of 25. But ac­cord­ing to Pre­mier Phillipe Couil­lard, mak­ing the age higher will not pre­vent youth who are al­ready smok­ing pot from do­ing so, and in­stead they will con­tinue to turn to the black mar­ket.

“What we want to do is pre­vent or­ga­nized crime and the black mar­ket from prof­it­ing from the sit­u­a­tion," he said to the me­dia. He also pointed out the le­gal age of 19 years old in On­tario and the prox­im­ity of the two prov­inces, mak­ing it easy for youth to just cross over and get what they want.

Ru­mors have it that Que­bec would sell pot at around $7 or $8 a gram, which would make it com­pet­i­tive with the il­le­gal mar­ket.

As for how and where it would be sold, the province would cre­ate a Crown cor­po­ra­tion us­ing the 'ex­per­tise' of the SAQ. Em­ploy­ees would be act­ing as 'pot coun­sel­lors' not sales­peo­ple and in­stead will be mak­ing youth aware of the po­ten­tial health con­se­quences of us­ing it.

The pri­vate sec­tor, in­clud­ing dé­pan­neurs, will not be al­lowed to sell pot as they hoped for and in­stead the gov­ern­ment will main­tain con­trol. What ex­actly that en­tails or where the prof­its will go is not yet clear - but many are call­ing for it to go into aware­ness and pre­ven­tion pro­grams.

The bill on cannabis le­gal­iza­tion is ex­pected to soon be in­tro­duced in the Na­tional Assem­bly, with pot sched­uled to be­come le­gal in Canada in July of 2018.

What do you think the le­gal age should be? And should the pri­vate sec­tor be al­lowed to sell pot?

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