François Legault, Quebec’s incoming premier, says he’ll follow through on a campaign promise to raise the province’s minimum age to buy and possess cannabis from 18 to 21.
Coming just two weeks before recreational marijuana will be legal across the country, the move would need a very fast, last-minute legislative change for it to take effect.
The change would move Quebec from having one of the lowest cannabis ages in the country to the highest — the minimum age will be 19 in most provinces.
However, it would be in line with U.S. states that have legalized recreational marijuana. (Two states that have or will soon legalize, Maine and Vermont, border Quebec.)
In Ottawa, Bill Blair says the federal government won’t interfere if Quebec decides to raise the age limit.
The federal minister responsible for border security and organized crime reduction says Ottawa will leave it to the provinces to decide their own age limits.
Quebec’s newly-elected governing party, the Coalition Avenir Quebec, campaigned on a pledge to increase the legal age for consuming cannabis.
While the CAQ says it intends to follow through on that promise, questions have been raised about whether that can be done before pot becomes legal across the country on Oct. 17.
Blair says he’s not concerned about age limits imposed by provinces.
He says the federal government is focused on getting cannabis out of the hands of youth and preventing organized crime from profiting from the drug.
As of Oct. 17, people 18 and over can legally possess cannabis under federal law. The only tool Quebec would have to prevent people 18, 19 and 20 from possessing cannabis is a provincial-level charge, like parking ticket.
— With files from The Canadian Press