Quebec passes law to raise legal age for cannabis to 21

Customers line up at a government cannabis store in Montreal on Oct. 18, 2018. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The Quebec government’s contentious cannabis legislation that will impose some of the strictest rules in Canada has been adopted by the province’s National Assembly.

On Tuesday, Legault’s government used its majority to pass Bill 2 which will raise the legal age to consume and purchase recreational marijuana from 18 to 21.

The change will come into effect as of January 1, 2020.

READ MORE: Quebec to offer legal cannabis at $4.49 a gram, beating grey-market price

The proposed legislation was tabled last December shortly after the Coalition Avenir Québec won the provincial election and formed government.

The federal law legalizing cannabis consumption sets the minimum age at 18 but gives provinces the power to increase it. In all other provinces and territories, the legal age is 18 or 19.

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Lionel Carmant, the junior health minister, has said in the past that he was worried about marijuana’s effects on the still-developing brains of young adults.

Carmant told reporters on Tuesday that he was happy to see the government take a cautious approach.

Several reactions denouncing the bill poured in on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Quebec cannabis sales raked in $71 million in first year

The Quebec Association of the Cannabis Industry (AQIC) said the government is choosing to “push the most vulnerable consumers to the black market.”

The AQIC also said Bill 2 goes against the primary objectives of legalization, which were to protect the public by supplying a safe and controlled product and to eliminate the black market.

Liberal health critic André Fortin sarcastically congratulated Carmant on “securing the financial future of organized crime,” and Québec Solidaire’s Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois accused the government of creating two categories of adults: adults over 21 and adults between 18 and 21.

Earlier this month, the Legault government promised to launch a legal challenge after a court struck down parts of its cannabis law banning citizens from growing their own recreational marijuana.

In September, a Quebec Superior Court justice ruled the province’s legislation infringed upon the jurisdiction of the federal government.

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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