The Canadian province of Quebec has decided to ban growing marijuana plants at home. Yesterday, Minister Jean-Marc Fournier who lead this initiative, spoke with federal lawmakers in Ottowa. Fournier hopes that the Canadian Senate will add an amendment that officially gives provinces the right to ban personal cannabis cultivation. In the meantime, this Quebec lawmaker explains provincial ban on home-grown cannabis and his ask of the federal government.
Bill C-45, which legalizes cannabis growth and sale nationally, allows residents more access to marijuana than the conservative Quebec government wants. According to federal law, adults can have up to 30 grams of cannabis on their person, grow up to four plants and buy from licensed retail locations.
Everything else, from age restrictions to distribution, is left to the provinces to decide.
Banning home-grown marijuana would appear to violate national marijuana legalization. To address this issue, Fournier wrote a letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. The Quebec lawmaker explains the provincial ban on home-grown cannabis in his letter and argues that it doesn’t contradict C-45. He contends that federal legislation can only ban cannabis-related activities, not ensure everyone’s right to them.
Plus, Quebec has a different goal when it comes to marijuana. Unlike advocacy groups that put marijuana on par with alcohol, Quebec conservatives don’t want to normalize cannabis. Fournier explains, “The goal isn’t to encourage production, but to restrict the access.”
Three months later, Wilson-Raybould replied to Fournier, though the Minister wants further clarification. In the Justice Minister’s reply, she wrote that Quebec can ban home-grown cannabis. However, if taken to court, a judge could overturn provincial bans in favor of federal laws.
Dissatisfied with the Justice Minister’s reply, Minister Fournier traveled to Ottawa to speak with legislators in person. Now he’s asking them to change the legislation to allow for more provincial independence. Fournier elaborates, “I’m asking for an amendment that would clarify the right of the citizens who were told they can challenge Quebec’s law.”
The federal government will not be challenging Quebec’s law. Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould clarified yesterday, “It is not the intention of the federal government, with respect to home cultivation, to challenge provincial laws.”
This does not mean, however, that individuals cannot challenge Quebec’s home-grown cannabis ban. For the time being, it looks like anyone who takes the Quebec government to court over growing marijuana plants would win. In other words, “federal law will prevail,” according to Wilson-Raybould.
Other organizations are also looking to oppose Quebec’s new restrictions. For instance, Quebec Solidaire, a socialist party, does not share Minister Fournier’s opinion. Spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau Dubois said, “Now he [Fournier] has to turn to the Senate, a non-elected chamber, to try to influence the bill. it looks a little desperate.”
The federal government has not said whether it will amend its national cannabis legislation.
National authorities are allowing Quebec and Manitoba to ban home-grown cannabis. Nevertheless, officials see lawsuits on the horizon as citizens protest federal violations. And the way the law currently exists, these citizens would win in court.
Balancing provincial and federal authority is one of the many difficulties of Canadian marijuana legalization. Legislation should be finalized by the beginning of the summer to make way for full legalization by the end of the season.
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