Pubdate: Fri, 17 Nov 2017
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Andy Riga
Page: A9


Safe-driving activists, pot dispensers and businesses all have their
own views

Two cannabis activists aren't impressed with the marijuana
legalization plan Quebec announced Thursday. But a group that works to
decrease impaired driving praised the proposed legislation.

Here's a look at some of the reaction to Bill 157:

Marc-Boris St-Maurice, a longtime pot activist and founder of the
Montreal Compassion Centre medical-marijuana dispensary:

"Their plan is still half-baked," he said, noting guidelines announced
Thursday are in a draft bill that might change.

"We still don't know about the supply end and the federal government
has yet to pass their bill so all of this is still, for the moment,
promises and expectations, but I have no idea what it's going to look
like upon delivery."

He objected to Quebec's plan to conduct criminal background checks on
Societe quebecoise du cannabis employees.

"That's going to exclude a lot of people who have a lot of expertise,"
St-Maurice said. "We're not talking about hardened, career criminals
here; we're talking about just average people who may have a record
for cannabis possession," he said.

"I thought legalization was actually supposed to help these people who
suffered at the hands of prohibition."

St-Maurice said, "It's a shame that they haven't turned to people in
the marijuana community to get more input. I don't think the
government has the expertise required."

Jodie Emery, marijuana activist and co-owner of the Cannabis Culture
dispensary chain:

"I'm not impressed at all - this is the most restrictive model we've
seen yet," Emery said of Quebec's bill. "It sounds just like
prohibition. The model they're proposing will ensure that (people)
continue to be criminalized, it will deny Quebec residents many of
their different rights and freedoms."

She objected to provisions that would bar drivers from having any
marijuana in their system, restrict the amount of pot Quebecers could
have in their homes, and forbid home-growing.

"It's very disappointing because we know there is extremely high
demand for cannabis access in Quebec," Emery said.

Her husband, Cannabis Culture co-owner Marc Emery, was arrested in
December after briefly opening six marijuana dispensaries in Montreal,
all of which later closed.

Simon-Pierre Poulin, spokesperson for Montreal 420 Tours, a nascent
cannabis tourism company:

Poulin said he's disappointed Quebec's bill appears to exclude the
idea of marijuanacafes, one of the lines of business his company was

Other problems: The bill severely restricts advertising of cannabis
and related products and limits smoking in public outdoor places such
as parks, he noted.

"We want to be able to promote Montreal as a festive, lively, young
destination," Poulin said. "We want to be able to take tourists out to
enjoy the parks, enjoy the city."

The company might offer walking tours where tourists consume marijuana
in parks and then visit restaurants.

Poulin said he hopes "municipalities will tolerate people consuming in
public spaces like parks," as Montreal does with Tam-Tam events in
Mount Royal Park.

Marie Claude Morin, spokesperson, Mothers Against Drunk Driving

MADD had suggested zero tolerance for youth smoking up and driving.
Quebec went one step further, forbidding anyone from consuming pot and
driving, and imposing an immediate 90-day license suspension as well
as a fine, Morin noted.

"Most experts were a little worried about how to define what would be
a legal limit for cannabis so imposing zero tolerance (for all) is a
safe way to go," she said.

"This would be the toughest legislation in Canada," she

Chief Gina Deer, who sits on the Cannabis Working Group on behalf of the 
Mohawk Council of Kahnawake:

Quebec's bill says the province will enter into agreements with
Indigenous communities in order to adapt the bill's measures to
"native realities."

In Kahnawake, the council is consulting with community

"Our community has been zero tolerance for many years on drugs," Deer

"Now when you tell them that we have to accept marijuana as a legal
product and not as a drug, it's hard to accept, especially for elders."

She said one possibility is that manufacturing would be allowed in
Kahnawake but not retail marijuana outlets.

"The reality is people are going to go to Chateauguay, LaSalle,
Lachine and bring the product back," but as for what cannabis
businesses are allowed in Kahnawake, "it's our jurisdiction and we're
going to be the ones to regulate it."

Seychelle Harding, spokesperson, Portage, a network of drug addiction
rehabilitation centres:

Harding said Portage is disappointed that the legal age was set at 18,
noting that brains continue to develop until age 25.

Martine Hebert, vice-president, Canadian Federation of Independent Business:

Hebert, whose group represents more than 100,000 businesses across
Canada, said she was disappointed the bill includes no guidelines "to
help employers manage the risks of a possible upsurge in workplace

Stephane Forget, president, Federation des chambres de commerce du Quebec:

The bill's zero tolerance on smoking up and driving should have been
extended to the workplace, according to Forget.

The bill should be amended to "to send a clear signal that combining
cannabis and work is dangerous.'

Richard Lehoux, president, Federation quebecoise des

Lehoux praised the bill but said municipalities will need to be

"The legalization of cannabis will impose significant additional costs
on municipalities in terms of safety and supervision."

That's why equitable distribution of cannabis revenue between the
different levels of government is crucial, he said.
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