Pubdate: Mon, 02 Oct 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: A3


If Ontarians, 18, can buy pot in Quebec, they'll need to find a place
to smoke it

Ottawa 18-year-olds have for years gleefully evaded Ontario's age
requirement of 19 to buy alcohol by making a short trip across the
Ottawa River to drink legally in Quebec.

Now that provincial age discrepancy appears likely to be replicated
for pot smokers, too, with reports the Quebec government intends to
set the legal age for buying marijuana at 18.

Ontario has already announced an age of 19 to buy or possess pot when
it's legalized by the federal government. That's also Ontario's legal
drinking age.

Last month, senior ministers from both provinces meeting in Quebec
City stressed the importance of "harmonizing" rules governing marijuana.

But it doesn't appear to be working out that way when it comes to age

Quebec has not announced its plans. But several sources, including the
Montreal Gazette, report that - based on inside sources - Quebec will
set the pot purchase age at 18, aligned with its legal drinking age.

The Gazette also reported that the province will set up a Crown
corporation that will make use of expertise at the Societe des alcools
du Quebec to handle recreational marijuana sales.

In Ontario, the provincially run LCBO will be in charge of
recreational marijuana sales, both at stand-alone stores and online.

What effect all this will have on cross-border pot shopping between
Ottawa and Gatineau is anyone's guess.

Will 18-year-olds in Ottawa travel to Gatineau to buy marijuana?
Maybe, but several factors work against the development of a situation
similar to what now happens with alcohol. It's common for Ottawa
18-year-olds to head to Gatineau bars.

Quebec, for instance, could conceivably pass a law allowing only
Quebec residents to buy cannabis at age 18, says Ottawa lawyer Trina
Fraser, who specializes in cannabis business law. There has been
general concern expressed about cannabis tourism between provinces,
which could be triggered by differences in price, types of products
and legal age of purchase, she said.

But even if 18-year-old Ontarians are allowed to buy pot in Quebec,
they'll have to find a place to smoke it.

That's up to the province to determine. "Will you be able to use it in
a motor vehicle? In a public place? Inside an establishment? Will
there be (vape) lounges?" said Fraser.

That's no known yet, but it's unlikely Quebec will allow pot smoking
in bars and restaurants. The Ontario government has announced that
marijuana use will not be allowed in any public place.

Most likely, that 18-year-old from Ottawa will have to find a friend's
house in Gatineau to legally consume marijuana. But if he or she
pockets the pot instead and brings it back to Ottawa, that could spell
legal trouble. "If you're only 18, obviously you have a problem as
soon as you cross the border," said Fraser. "You're offside."

If pot is sold only at government-run stores in Quebec, that could
also be a disincentive to buy there, said Ottawa criminal defence
lawyer Neil Weinstein. Government stores aren't open late at night,
like bars and depanneurs, he pointed out.

"I don't know how many 18-year-olds will have the wherewithal to go
over to Gatineau during business hours just to buy their weed.

"That sounds like a lot of complications for an 18-year-old pot

Fraser says she is not surprised that Quebec apparently plans to adopt
the same minimum age for buying pot and alcohol. The province would
have a hard time justifying a higher age limit for cannabis when
alcohol is a potentially more harmful substance, she said. That debate
would be more politically difficult than the possibility of some
cross-border pot shopping by 18-year-olds, she said.

"I guess they figure (the age difference) hasn't been the end of the
world for alcohol, so it won't be for cannabis, either."
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