The co-founder of The Supreme Cannabis Company has congratulated illicit pot dealers for securing a monopoly on Quebecois consumers under 21 years of age.
John Fowler’s tongue-in-cheek remark came after the province decided to raise the legal age for recreational cannabis consumption from 18 to 21. The law aims to protect young adults and their developing brains from the perceived harms of cannabis consumption, according to junior health minister Lionel Carmant.
No other province has a legal cannabis consumption age above 19, and the industry reacted with dismay to the news. “Prohibitionist policies which believe that demand can be curbed through regulation have failed historically and will continue to fail,” said Fowler, who left his role as chief advocacy officer at The Supreme Cannabis Company (TSX: FIRE) this week.
The Quebec Cannabis Industry Association released a statement declaring that increasing the legal age will simply steer the most vulnerable consumers towards the black market, where there are no safeguards in place.
Cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser called it a terrible public policy. Quebec Solidaire co-spokesman Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois added that it would drive youth into the arms of organized crime.
The province has the lowest legal consumption rate in Canada after imposing the strictest rules. Earlier this year it decided to defy federal regulations by banning edibles that take the form of chocolate and candy.
Carmant said that ban would allow Quebec to reduce the consumption of cannabis in general. It has also launched a high-profile campaign warning Quebecois of the dangers of using cannabis.
Earlier this month, a legal challenge was launched after a court ruled that it could not prohibit residents from growing their own cannabis at home. The federal government permits Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants, but Quebec chose to legislate against home cultivation.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Manon Lavoie ruled that provincial law is unconstitutional, and now the province is preparing for a legal battle.
Carmant said the legal age for cannabis consumption in Quebec would change to 21 on Jan. 1, 2020, in order to give retailers time to adapt. He claimed that polls indicate that 70% of Quebecois favour increasing the legal age.