The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government says it is amending its cannabis bill known as Bill 2, allowing for the consumption of cannabis in certain public parks and spaces.
Municipalities will now be able to decide whether to allow or ban the public consumption of marijuana but under certain conditions.
For example, smoking will not be tolerated in outdoor parks designed for children to play or parks frequented by children.
It will also be prohibited to smoke cannabis during events like festivals and concerts.
It will be up to each city or municipality to display proper signage to inform residents.
“We heard the municipalities’ concerns during consultations. Our proposals reflect our effort to answer to that,” Lionel Carmant, Quebec’s junior health minister said in a statement.
WATCH: Quebec cannabis commission meets (February 2019)
This goes against Quebec Minister François Legault’s original campaign promise to enforce restrictions on cannabis sales and consumption.
Opposition Critic for Health and Public Health André Fortin was pleased to hear about the CAQ decision.
“Every public health expert that we heard said that it was less toxic to smoke outside than to smoke between four walls,” Fortin said, “and we knew that the legislation, for all those that are tenants, would force them to commit an illegal act in order to commit a legal act smoking cannabis.”
Carmant, known for his opposition to the Cannabis Act, said it doesn’t make sense to have one municipality do something different from another, according to Fortin.
Plante and Fortin mirror the opinion that Montreal’s high level of tenancy would make Bill 2 a large issue, leaving behind a large number of people unable to smoke cannabis in most areas.
However, the Quebec government is keeping its promise to raise the age of purchase and consumption from 18 to 21.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante recommended that the legal age of 18 be maintained for Montreal in order to fight contraband marijuana and in an effort to “encourage young cannabis users to stock up on cannabis on the legal market.”
Plante also argued for the government to allow smoking in public spaces. She argued that roughly 60 per cent of Montrealers who are renters would be disproportionately affected if the government’s bill were to limit cannabis consumption to private property.
The city’s renters would be barred from smoking marijuana in public and in their home if their landlords don’t permit cannabis, she said.
The city’s guidelines prohibit smoking marijuana in places where tobacco smoking is already prohibited, such as inside public buildings and on public transportation, but the city stopped short of banning consumption in parks or on sidewalks.
The amendments were set to be tabled Tuesday afternoon.
— With files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez
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