Pubdate: Wed, 20 Sep 2017
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Philip Authier
Page: A2


Special branch of SAQ would handle sale, distribution

Adding its two cents to the raging debate, the Parti Quebecois has
opted for a strict, state-controlled marijuana distribution system,
but would set the legal age to buy it at 18.

The PQ also wants to see some controls on home crops, saying an
individual would be limited to two plants not four as the federal
government has proposed. And the owner of a building would have the
option of banning their tenants from growing and consuming it.

When it comes to where people can smoke weed, Quebec would apply the
same rules as it has in place for vaping and smoking tobacco and
consuming alcohol.

Taking a somewhat softer line on the issue than the Coalition Avenir
Quebec party, which wants the legal age to be 21, PQ leader
JeanFrancois Lisee argued it's almost impossible to find the right age
because youth are going to smoke regardless.

Setting the age at 21 creates a catchy political slogan, Lisee said,
but it just means youth under 21 will get their weed underground -
which leaves no chance to warn them about the risks for young brains
described by experts.

"The Hells Angels are not too interested in public health," Lisee said
at a news conference called to present the PQ's pot plan.

"I would rather they buy from a counsellor at the SAQ who will tell
them, 'OK, you bought this. You know it's dangerous for your brain and
you should consume less. But you have the right.' "

In fact, the PQ says sales and distribution would be controlled by the
SAQ through a new branch of operations, which would report to Quebec's
minister of public health. Alcohol would not be sold in these outlets.

In the PQ's vision, the workers would be counsellors, not

The PQ wants all the mass-produced marijuana to be grown in the
province. As for the price, the PQ says Quebec should make use of
expertise at Loto- Quebec, because it has a vast experience setting
the price of things Quebecers collectively want to limit.

All of the profits from sales would be steered into public education
and prevention. So would the goods and services tax Ottawa will
collect on the sales. A PQ government would ask Ottawa to give that
money back to the province.

The PQ position paper follows that of the CAQ a week earlier. The
CAQ's view is stricter. Besides the 21 age limit, the party would also
ban home production in any form and all online sales. The PQ would
allow online sales, but the website would be controlled by SAQ.

The Quebec government is still debating and preparing its own plan to
respond to the federal legalization of marijuana, which kicks in July
1. Ontario has set the legal age at 19.

Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette last week blasted the federal
government for not having worked out more of the details of its plan,
including regulations covering such edible products as pot muffins and
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