Article by Lift News
Public consultations on the framework for cannabis legalization are underway today in Quebec. From now until September 12, citizens and organizations will be invited to complete an online questionnaire, take part in one of seven regional consultations and/or submit a written document such as an essay or letter.
Quebec has risen to the challenge with these provincial consultations, offering a variety of ways to get involved in the debate. This is especially impressive considering the initial reluctance shown by several stakeholders regarding the bill.
Since an expert forum was held in June, many have begun to nuance to their statements and to look ahead, signalling a shift in the discourse.
Three topics will be discussed: prevention and health, marketing and safety.
Thus far, the field of healthcare has voiced its opinions loudest. The health sector has played an important role in the public debate, raising concerns and statistics on the physical and psychological risks of cannabis consumption. The sector has even made proposals for distribution, advocating for a government-run or non-profit model.
Other stakeholders have also positioned themselves on distribution. Quebec-based giant Couche-Tard (Mac’s) has proposed to sell recreational cannabis through its Canada-wide network of convenience stores. For its part, the SAQ employee union has proposed a government-run model and was even open to the idea of selling through boutiques that would remain separate from its liquor stores. This proposal has also been backed by unions, top universities and stakeholders in the field of healthcare.
Since Quebec has only a handful of dispensaries, its influence on this matter is unlikely to be significant.
We can expect licensed producers in Quebec to make the same proposals as those in the other provinces. That is, a private, competitive distribution model that would allow LP’s to be involved and a regulatory framework that would make room for a certain level of differentiation in terms of product and brand image.