Article by Michael Armstrong, Montreal Gazette
The Coalition Avenir Québec government is making a mistake with its proposed law to raise the legal age for cannabis to 21 as well as to ban public smoking.
The government seems well-intentioned. But its law seems likely to have unintended effects. Critics argue the age increase would drive young adults to illegal suppliers. And the smoking restrictions could prevent residents of non-smoking buildings from legally lighting-up.
Instead, it would make much more sense for Quebec to increase all adult Quebecers’ access to cannabis, by opening more stores.
Let’s see what the numbers say.
First, there are about 270,000 Quebecers ages 18 to 20, according to Statistics Canada data.
Statistics Canada’s surveys also indicate 33 per cent of Canadians in that age group use cannabis. Quebec’s figure might be nearer 29 per cent, given its lower overall usage rate.
Together, those numbers suggest roughly 80,000 existing users would be banned from Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) outlets. Does the government believe they’d all suddenly abstain?
Second, the proposal restricts public smoking. The government has suggested residents of non-smoking buildings could switch from smoking dry cannabis (buds and leaves) to ingesting cannabis oils.