The Quebec government says it will not change its marijuana legislation despite getting a warning from the federal government.
The federal bill allows Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants at home, but Quebec’s proposed bill bans personal plants outright. On Wednesday, the federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said the province’s bill goes against the intent of the federal bill and will not stand up in court.
On Thursday, Quebec ministers Jean-Marc Fournier and Lucie Charlebois defended their bill. They said while criminal law is within federal jurisdiction, civil law is a provincial affair. Fournier said that means Quebecers caught growing plants won’t be charged with a criminal offence, but they could face a provincial fine.
“We want to be clear. That is the intention of Quebecers. We have the power to express the intention of Quebecers,” Fournier said.
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The Canadian Relations minister went even further. Fournier said he would not let Ottawa overstep its power. He denied the province was deliberately picking a fight with the federal government as a form of political browbeating during an election year.
“We are going to affirm our jurisdiction … and four years, three years, two years, one year, six months before an election, we are going to do that,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government will legalize pot by July. Each province will create its own regulatory and distribution framework.