Checking In On The New Cannabis Laws In Quebec And Canada

Jun 20, 2018

This week, cannabis legalization in Canada passed that country’s senate, the final hurdle for that legislation. So what will and won't be legal once the law takes effect?

Ben Shingler, a reporter for the CBC in Montreal, said the federal law leaves a lot to each province.

The sale of the drug will be legal across the country, but each province can create guidelines for how that will work.

Quebec passed its own law regulating marijuana last week, and Shingler said the province is taking a stricter approach than other areas of Canada.

"You will be able to go to a store, a government-run store, and purchase cannabis for consumption," Shingler said.

Ben Shingler of the CBC in Montreal spoke to VPR's Henry Epp. Listen to their full conversation above.

At first, four government-run stores will open around the province, "which is clearly not going to be enough, and then there's plans to open more as we go forward," Shingler said.

The stores will be run by the same government entity that currently runs stores that sell liquor and wine. That's different than some other provinces, which are experimenting with privately-run cannabis shops. Throughout Canada, residents will also be able to purchase the drug online.

For now, you won't be able to buy edibles in cannabis shops in Quebec, but cannabis to smoke will be available.

MORE: "Quebec Has Passed Its Long-Awaited Cannabis Law. Here's What's In It" [CBC]

The Quebec law also prohibits growing cannabis at home, but Canada's federal law does allow home grown pot.

"So there is a disconnect there, and there might be even a legal challenge that ends up making its way into the court between Quebec and Ottowa, which is not the first time Quebec and Ottowa have knocked heads," Shingler said.

For visitors from the U.S. heading north, Shingler said it's his understanding they will be allowed to buy and use cannabis while in Quebec, but won't be able to bring it back with them over the border.

The drug becomes legal for recreational use in Vermont on July 1, but it remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S.