Article by Cecilia Keating, Lift News
According to Parti Québécois (PQ) justice critic Véronique Hivon, Québec was excluded from all discussions, yet will have to bear the burden of the impact the legislation will have on public health and security, alongside other ensuing social issues. She told journalists on Thursday that “it’s time that Québec was allowed to make all its own decisions.”
The PQ’s concerns were echoed on a federal level by Bloc Québecois (BQ) leader Martine Ouellet, who said at a press conference on the same day that “once again the federal government keeps the biggest slice of the cake to itself and has swept the most complex and costly questions to Québec.”
The bill leaves several key decisions to the provinces and territories, including setting a legal age limit (in accordance with the federal minimum of 18), licensing cannabis distribution and sale, establishing provincial zoning rules for businesses, restricting where cannabis can be consumed, and amending traffic safety laws to ensure the right checks are in place.
Whether or not the provincial government chooses to play a role in distribution in Québec has not yet been decided. In a statement released on Friday, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) employees’ union advocated for a “state-run operation whose social and financial objectives are defined by the government” to distribute recreational cannabis. The union paid for a study published in December which stated that the industry would spawn more profits and employ more people if distribution was entrusted to the SAQ and not put into private hands.
The same study estimated that Québec’s pot market could generate $3.2 billion per year within 10 years.
Meanwhile Québec’s public health department has recommended that alcohol and pot should not be sold alongside each other, echoing the recommendations of last year’s federal task force on cannabis legalization and regulation.