PM: Que­bec pot plan good for or­ga­nized crime

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - ME­LANIE MAR­QUIS The Cana­dian Press

YERE­VAN, Ar­me­nia — Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau sug­gested Satur­day morn­ing the in­com­ing Que­bec gov­ern­ment’s plan to raise the le­gal age for smok­ing cannabis to 21 could leave an open­ing for or­ga­nized crime.

Speak­ing to re­porters on the last day of a trip to Ar­me­nia, Trudeau said in­creas­ing the le­gal age could un­der­mine one of the fed­eral law’s key aims — elim­i­nat­ing the black mar­ket.

“If we elim­i­nate the seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion be­tween 18 to 19 and 21 years, which is a pop­u­la­tion of­ten in uni­ver­sity, of­ten in ar­eas where they’ll try to con­sume, we’re keep­ing an im­por­tant seg­ment of po­ten­tial con­sumers for the black mar­ket,” he told re­porters in Yere­van.

Trudeau said he hopes to dis­cuss the mat­ter fur­ther with Coali­tion Avenir Que­bec Leader Fran­cois Legault, whose party was elected Oct. 1.

The fed­eral law sets the min­i­mum age at 18 but leaves it open to prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries to es­tab­lish their own rules.

In all prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries, the le­gal age will be 18 or 19 when cannabis be­comes le­gal next Wed­nes­day.

But Legault has promised to raise the age to 21 from 18 in Que­bec.

Trudeau said he per­son­ally agrees with a le­gal age of 18.

The prime min­is­ter said he un­der­stands that some peo­ple would like to pre­vent those un­der 25 from con­sum­ing mar­i­juana due to the sub­stance’s im­pact on brain de­vel­op­ment, but that do­ing so would “main­tain a black mar­ket.”

“We be­lieve that set­ting the le­gal age to (match) the age of al­co­hol con­sump­tion is a com­pro­mise that makes sense,” he said.

De­spite their dif­fer­ences, Trudeau ap­peared re­luc­tant to be­gin a quar­rel with the newly elected Que­bec premier.

“The gov­ern­ment of the (Coali­tion Avenir Que­bec) hasn’t even es­tab­lished its cab­i­net yet, so (there are) a lot of de­ci­sions to make,” he said.

“We’ll share our per­spec­tive ... and we’ll have the nec­es­sary con­ver­sa­tions at the right time and place.”

While Legault has promised to raise the le­gal age to 21, those changes won’t be in place when cannabis be­comes le­gal on Wed­nes­day.

There­fore, Que­be­cers be­tween the ages of 18 and 20 will be able to legally con­sume cannabis for at least the first few weeks.

The party has said it in­tends to be­gin the process of mod­i­fy­ing the law once the leg­is­la­ture ses­sion be­gins.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU

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