The unanimous decision, which was issued Friday, says the provincial legislature “has jurisdiction to prohibit the possession and cultivation of cannabis” at home for public health and security reasons.
Writing on behalf of the high court, Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote that Quebec’s ban on homegrown plants is “a means of steering consumers to the only source of supply considered to be reliable and safe.”
Wagner said that Quebec’s ban has the same objective as the federal law, which is to reduce the presence of criminal organizations in the cannabis market and restrict growing marijuana at home.
“The provincial act’s public health and security objectives and its prohibitions are, to a large degree, in harmony with the objectives of the federal act, and there is no basis for finding a conflict of purposes,” Wagner wrote.
The court also found Quebec’s law is a valid use of its Constitutionally granted powers regarding subjects under exclusive provincial jurisdiction: property and civil rights, and matters of a merely local or private nature.
The ruling comes after the case was first brought before the courts by Janick Murray-Hall in 2019.
His lawyer argued that the province’s ban on owning and growing cannabis plants for personal use is not only unconstitutional, but also contradicts the Canadian government’s 2018 cannabis law.
The federal law allows people to grow or own up to four cannabis plants at home, but Quebec legislated against it. The province’s Cannabis Regulation Act prohibits growing marjiuana for personal use, with fines running between $250 and $750.
Quebec Superior Court sided with Murray-Hall and found the law to be unconstitutional, saying it found the province strayed into federal jurisdiction.
The province’s attorney general then successfully appealed to the Quebec Court of Appeal. That decision led Murray-Hall to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said Friday he was satisfied with the high court’s ruling, saying the Cannabis Regulation Act aims to protect the health and safety of all citizens in the province, especially young people.
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“Quebec will always defend its competencies,” he wrote on Twitter.
Maxime Guérin, the lawyer who represented Murray-Hall, said the ruling enshrines the principle that Quebec can associate cannabis with public health.
“It confirms Quebec’s right to be a little independent or different in its way of approaching this question,” he told The Canadian Press.
“There is certainly some disappointment, but it is the decision of the highest court, it’s a constitutional decision and we don’t have much choice but to rely on this.”
— with files from The Canadian Press