Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jan 2018
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Philip Authier
Page: A1


The province's psychiatrists QUEBEC are calling on Quebec to slap
limits on the potency of the cannabis soon to be sold in
state-controlled stores because of the health risks of a drug they say
can no longer be considered soft.

And the city of Montreal has warned the government it will need a
hefty share of the tax revenues pot sales generate to cover the costs
of applying the province's cannabis legislation.

Based on an independent study produced by Raymond Chabot Grant
Thornton, the city estimates legalization will cost Montreal between
$4.7 million and $9.3 million a year in new costs in the form of
additional hires and training of police officers as well as public
education and human resource costs.

That's on top of one-time costs of between $875,000 and $1 million in
the first year, the study released Wednesday says. Montreal says it
wants 33 per cent of the revenues generated from pot sales to be
turned over to the city to help pay the bill. While Montreal generally
backs the bill's vision, which is to only allow cannabis to be
consumed where people are allowed to smoke tobacco, it also is asking
the government for "maximum latitude," in deciding which sites

The views were expressed Wednesday as a National Assembly committee
wrapped up its hearings into Bill 157, which is expected to pass
before the spring recess of the house.

On Wednesday, the Quebec Association of psychiatrists, one of nearly
60 groups that appeared before the committee, gave the minister
responsible for the legislation, Lucie Charlebois, an earful on a
subject that has barely been mentioned: the THC levels of cannabis.

"Parents need to understand something," Karine Igartua, president of
the association told reporters following a presentation to the
committee. "The cannabis on the street today is not what was on the
street 30 years ago.

"People tend to trivialize pot and say, 'I smoked pot when I was young
and it wasn't bad.' If we don't draw a line, the pot we will see on
the street and in the pot stores will be something even more dangerous.

"The studies are clear. The higher the level of THC, the more the
consumption and the higher the risk of psychosis."

In 1995, the level of THC in pot seized on the black market in the
United States was about 4 per cent, Igartua said. In 2012, the level
had soared to 12 per cent as grow farms became more

In some jurisdictions where pot is legal, the Netherlands and Colorado
for example, the THC level has risen to more than 30 per cent.

With Quebec planning to control the pot market, from production to
sale, Igartua said it has a golden opportunity to put restrictions on
the level of THC.

"I think we need to draw a line in the sand somewhere," she said,
noting the government has already set the limit for drinking and
driving alcohol at .08.

The association recommends the THC level be about 15-16 per cent for
adults and 8 per cent for youth 18-21 years old. The association was
among the last groups to appear before the committee.

Montreal didn't make a presentation, but filed its brief - which
included the cost analysis - directly to the committee.

Charlebois now has to study all the data and report back to the
National Assembly.

After that, the bill enters the final phase of adoption, which
involves a clause by clause study.

Usually the minister presents any amendments in that

"Overall, the bill has been well received," Charlebois told reporters
at mid-day.

"Will there be amendments, certainly, certainly. Are improvements (to
the bill) possible, yes."

She repeated that she prefers the current proposal to make 18 the
legal age to purchase pot because it means youth will come to the
Societe quebecoise du cannabis stores to make a purchase and
counsellors can advise them on the dangers of consumption.

"I think it's important for us to be in contact with them, rather than
leave them in the hands of the black market," Charlebois said.

On Tuesday, several groups, including the Federation des comites de
parents - representing parents from 58 francophone and two anglophone
boards - called for the legal age to consume to be 21.

Business groups, expressed concerns about the bill not covering the
use of marijuana in the workplace.

Martine Hebert, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of
Independent Business, told the committee on Tuesday that specific
sanctions and fines should be added to the bill for employees found to
be intoxicated in the workplace.

The Federation des cegeps raised another issue.

Noting that about one quarter of students in CEGEP are minors,
federation president Sylvain Lambert called on the government to
completely ban consumption in institutions of higher learning.

Currently, the bill only bans pot in elementary and high schools.
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