Article by Jacquie Miller, Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa 18-year-olds have for years gleefully evaded Ontario’s age requirement of 19 to buy alcohol by making a short trip across the Ottawa River to drink legally in Quebec.
Now that provincial age discrepancy appears likely to be replicated for pot smokers, too, with reports the Quebec government intends to set the legal age for buying marijuana at 18.
Ontario has already announced an age of 19 to buy or possess pot when it’s legalized by the federal government. That’s also Ontario’s legal drinking age.
Last month, senior ministers from both provinces meeting in Quebec City stressed the importance of “harmonizing” rules governing marijuana. But it doesn’t appear to be working out that way when it comes to age minimums.
Quebec has not announced its plans. But several sources, including the Montreal Gazette, report that — based on inside sources — Quebec will set the pot purchase age at 18, aligned with its legal drinking age. The Gazette also reported that the province will set up a Crown corporation that will make use of expertise at the Société des alcools du Québec to handle recreational marijuana sales.
In Ontario, the provincially run LCBO will be in charge of recreational marijuana sales, both at stand-alone stores and online.
What effect all this will have on cross-border pot shopping between Ottawa and Gatineau is anyone’s guess.
Will 18-year-olds in Ottawa travel to Gatineau to buy marijuana? Maybe, but several factors work against the development of a situation similar to what now happens with alcohol. It’s common for Ottawa 18-year-olds to head to Gatineau bars.