In the back room of a head shop in downtown Montreal, there are boxes stuffed with shirts, lighters, board games, and even colouring books. They’ve all been pulled off the shelves because — even though cannabis is now legal for recreational use in Canada — stores in Quebec aren’t allowed to sell anything with words or images associated with marijuana.
Only the government-run Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) outlets are allowed to sell cannabis in the province, while private retail shops are allowed to sell pot-smoking accessories.
But provincial inspectors have told head shops that selling items that appear to promote cannabis — a shirt with the word “bud” on it, for example — could mean a fine ranging from $2,500 to $62,500.
“We really didn’t think that come legalization day, products that we’ve been selling for the last 30 years would all of a sudden become illegal,” said Christopher Mennillo, vice-president and co-owner of the head shop chain Prohibition.
He said it’s frustrating because Quebec’s rules are far more conservative than those in the rest of Canada.
Other Canadian provinces seem to have no qualms about pot-related paraphernalia being decorated with cannabis leaves or references to cannabis culture.