The Quebec government has launched a legal challenge after a court ruled that it could not prohibit residents from growing their own cannabis at home.
The federal government has permitted Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants at home under the Cannabis Act, which came into effect in October 2018. However, Quebec chose in June 2018 to legislate against home cultivation.
Last month, Quebec Superior Court Justice Manon Lavoie ruled Quebec’s provincial law prohibiting Quebecers from growing cannabis for personal use is unconstitutional. She decided that it infringed upon the jurisdiction of the federal government, which should have sole responsibility for legislating on criminal matters.
Julien Fortier, the lawyer who led the challenge, said anyone wanting to grow cannabis at home can now do so legally, but the province has decided to appeal the ruling.
Premier Francois Legault told reporters that the Quebec government “will go right to the limit in the courts to do what we think is good for Quebecers”.
Manitoba has also overridden federal law and prohibited people from growing their own cannabis at home, but Quebec appears to be the least liberal province in the country when it comes to recreational cannabis.
This summer it decided to defy federal law by banning the sale of chocolate and candy laced with cannabis. Edible sales will be legal across the country from Oct. 17, 2019, and the first products are expected to hit shelves in December, but the Quebec government does not feel Health Canada’s regulations are suitably robust.
It is also seeking to raise the legal age of cannabis consumption to 21 in the province, which would be the highest legal age in the country. It has also launched a high-profile campaign warning Quebecois of the dangers of using cannabis and it continues to resist the liberalization seen at a national level.
Quebec has the lowest prevalence of cannabis use in the country, according to figures from Statistics Canada. The national average is 16.1% and Nova Scotia leads the way with 24.4%, but use in Quebec stands at just 10.3%.
It has consistently shown it is not afraid to put itself on a collision course with Ottawa, but it could face more legal challenges in future.