The government should ban the sale of cannabis in impoverished neighbourhoods once it is legalized in July, a committee of the National Assembly was told Tuesday.
Alexandre Cusson, president of Quebec’s union of municipalities (UMQ), told the committee examining Bill 157 that Quebec should not make the same mistake with cannabis as was made with video-poker machines.
He said in the past many machines were installed in impoverished neighbourhoods, which amplified existing social problems and created new ones, including addiction.
“We don’t want to do the same thing again,” Cusson said, answering a question from Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois on Tuesday. “It should be done right.”
Cusson was presenting the UMQ’s brief to the committee examining the bill which, among other things, creates the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQC). Charlebois is the minister responsible for the legislation.
The SQC will handle sales of cannabis and plans to establish stand-alone stores in 15 regions of the province, which will be up and running by July 1 when pot is supposed to be legalized by the federal government. That number will grow in time.
A key recommendation of the UMQ is for Quebec to consider socio-economic factors in its choice of sales outlets. The decision can’t be made strictly on the basis of marketing needs.