Quebec will soon have highest legal age for cannabis consumption in Canada

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Young adults in Quebec who have become accustomed to visiting the province’s legal retail stores for their cannabis will soon no longer be allowed to do so.

Until now, the legal age to purchase marijuana in Quebec was 18 but as of January 1, 2020, Quebecers will have to wait until they turn 21. The new law makes Quebec the province with the highest legal age for cannabis consumption. The legal age for consumption across most of Canada is 19 with the exception of Alberta which has a legal age of 18.  

“We decided to allow a buffer so people who are used to going to the SQDC (Société québécoise du cannabis) stores can adapt to the change of regulations,” said junior health minister Lionel Carmant who tabled the bill. He told sources that the bill was created to protect young people whose development could be hindered by cannabis use.

“We want to send a clear message that we want to protect the most vulnerable people from the effects of these toxic products,” said Carmant.

The new law is already receiving a lot of criticism for being short-sighted, irresponsible and for doing the opposite of what legalization was meant to do, which is to drive sales away from the illicit market.

Francois Limoges, a spokesperson for the Quebec Cannabis Industry Association (QCIA), believes that young people who were using legal retail stores will return to the black market, reiterating that one of the major reasons the federal government decided to legalize cannabis was for Canadians to purchase safe, regulated cannabis.

“You’re pretty much telling the younger generation that you wanna protect, well, ‘go back to your dealers’ --  or find a dealer’ – because they’ve been buying legal cannabis for the last 12 months and as we know, when you’re a younger adult you’re not going to wait (to turn 21),” said Limoges.

Marianne Dessureault, spokesperson for Quebec’s association of public health, is also critical of the bill stating that there is no scientific basis for changing the legal age.

“We are going ahead and maybe transforming a law that sought to protect public health, towards a law that has more of a political flavor,” said Dessureault.

Young adults who for the last year have been able to participate in the legal market are disappointed in the new law, stating it’s unfair to make such a drastic change after people have already gotten used to buying their cannabis legally.

“It was nice to go to the store and feel safe,” Charlie Hession, a Dawson College student, told CBC news. “I don’t want to go back to my old ways of getting my product – on the street.”


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