MONTREAL — Forced into the pot business by the federal government, Quebec on Thursday tabled strict marijuana legislation, striving to give itself full control over the industry, push out the private sector and create a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of all drugs.
“This is an important change to our society,” Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois said after tabling Bill 157. “The experts recommended we be prudent to start and then to see if we need to adjust. They asked us to be rigorous and to see how citizens evolve.”
On Thursday, Alberta also released its pot plans, which include setting no limits on the number of private stores that can sell cannabis once retail sales are legalized next July. The NDP government said it would look to private retailers to sell marijuana from brick-and-mortar storefronts, instead of government-run outlets.
Quebec has been reticent to go along with the federal government’s marijuana plan, citing concerns from citizens that legalizing pot would encourage young people to pick up the habit and would foment social problems.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised Canadians marijuana will be legal by next July 1. But he has left it to the provinces to create their own legal framework on how to enforce the law on their territory.
The toughness of Quebec’s proposed law led to allegations that the province was enforcing “prohibition.”
Jodie Emery, marijuana activist and co-owner of the Cannabis Culture chain, said, “This is the most restrictive model we’ve seen yet.
“It sounds just like prohibition. The model they’re proposing will ensure that others continue to be criminalized; it will deny Quebec residents many of their different rights and freedoms.”
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