Pubdate: Fri, 17 Nov 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Allan Woods
Page: A10


Provincial legislation calls for government-run stores, zero tolerance
for DUIs

MONTREAL- The rollout of legislation governing the legal marijuana
regime in Quebec was likely a downer for pot enthusiasts in a province
widely known for its European sensibilities and liberal mores.

To call it a buzzkill would set bloodshot eyes rolling, but the Quebec
government unveiled plans to create what is likely to be one of the
most restrictive regimes so far in the country.

In introducing the legislation to reporters, even Public Health
Minister Lucie Charlebois admitted that the province was dragged out
of the prohibition era much too quickly by Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau's Liberal government.

"Do I like drugs? No . . . But are they there? As Minister of Public
Health do I have to act? Yes," Charlebois said.

Like Ontario and New Brunswick, Quebec plans to manage retail and
online sales of cannabis through a subsidiary of the provincial liquor
board when pot is legalized in July 2018.

Manitoba and Alberta, in contrast, both plan to allow private
retailers to seek licences to sell marijuana out of their stores.

Quebec also plans to exceed Ontario's proposed escalating monetary
penalties for drug-impaired driving by instituting a zero-tolerance
approach for all drivers found through roadside saliva tests to have
consumed pot.

And while the federal bill to legalize marijuana envisions allowing
adults to grow up to four plants for personal use, so long as they do
not exceed 100 centimetres, Quebec wants to ban anyone from growing
their own pot.

"It constitutes a nightmare of enforcement," Quebec Finance Minister
Carlos Leitao said. "One plant? Two plants? How big? How small? Which
apartment? Which house? Are you a renter or a homeowner?"

He predicted that other provinces trying to adhere to and enforce the
laws around plants for personal consumption will find it to be "quite

In addition to these measures, the province is setting up a
$25-million fund that will use the revenues from marijuana sales to
pay for studies into the public health effects, harm prevention
activities, treatment and education about drug use.

"The experts recommended that we be very careful at the beginning and
to adjust later if there is a need," Charlebois said, when asked about
the restrictive nature of the law, which nonetheless sets the minimum
age for marijuana consumption at 18.

The province also wants strict prohibitions on advertising and
promotion of cannabis. With that in mind, retail stores will be
neither overly inviting to consumers without being

"It's a reality that exists. What we want to do is take people out of
the illegal market and bring them in to the legal market so they can
have information and access to the products and we can explain it to
them," Charlebois said.

The legislation envisions criminal background checks and security
clearances for retail pot sellers whose job is to counsel customers on
the varieties and strains of the drug while warning about the
potential effects of cannabis use.

"They won't be trained to boost sales," Charlebois said. "We're not
growing the economy of Quebec with cannabis sales."

Leitao said provincial finance ministers would be talking about the
taxation of cannabis products and revenue sharing at a meeting next
month in Ottawa.

"The objective here is not to generate a bundle or a gazillion dollars
of revenue that is going to settle all our social problems," he said.

"The objective here is to drive out the illegal market. In order to
drive out the illegal market . . . we need to have a realistic price.
And to have a realistic price we need to have a realistic level of

The Trudeau government has proposed a 50-50 split of tax revenues
between the federal government and the provinces. Most provinces want
more of the money, saying that much of the burden that comes with
legal marijuana will fall to them.

Leitao said he expected a final decision on marijuana taxation by
February or March of 2018.

"By July1, like it or not, this stuff will go on sale. We need to have
what the price is and a good idea of what the taxation is."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt