Quebec takes hard line on cannabis with bill raising legal age to 21

QUEBEC — The Quebec government tabled legislation Wednesday that would impose the strictest cannabis controls in the country, raising the legal age to 21 and outlawing consumption in public.

The Coalition Avenir Quebec government campaigned on the promise to increase the age, and it followed through with a bill that would also see consumption prohibited in all public places, including parks and streets.

Lionel Carmant, the junior health minister, said he is worried about the effects of cannabis on the still-developing brains of young adults.

He told a news conference that studies have shown cannabis can cause damage to brain neurons until age 25, and he personally would have preferred setting the limit at 25.

The goal is to “delay the first consumption as much as possible,” Carmant told a news conference at a Quebec City high school. He said he rejects the “fatalistic argument” that the higher age limit will push teenagers and young adults to illegal sources like criminal organizations.

But that is exactly what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned of Wednesday.

Trudeau lamented that “an 18-year-old this week could buy cannabis legally, but in a few months maybe he’ll just have to buy it from Hells Angels.”

He told reporters in Ottawa, “These are questions the (Quebec) government will have to answer, but they will make their decisions as they are entitled to do.”

Carmant, a neurologist, said the province will invest $25 million in awareness campaigns beginning at a young age to warn about the effects of cannabis.

“I am convinced that the measures we are proposing today will have the effect of stopping many young people,” he said. He hopes to have the law adopted by March.

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.

The federal government said it would not get involved should there be a legal challenge to the proposed Quebec law.

“No, we don’t have any intention to intervene in any legal proceedings,” said federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. “It’s entirely the responsibility of the province of Quebec to choose the age of consumption.”

Just Posted

More than 100 people participate in the Light the Night Walk in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Michael Wark was 27 when he was diagnosed with cancer.… Continue reading

‘Big bang’ precedes Red Deer house fire, says neighbour

A Red Deer home was heavily damaged by a fire early Friday… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Grilling meat at Shelter Ribfest in Red Deer

The first-ever Shelter Ribfest is on this weekend at Gary W. Harris… Continue reading

Red Deer man arrested, charged for drug-related offences

A Red Deer man is facing a number of charges, including possession… Continue reading

Respect in hockey rinks is often missing

The men and women in stripes have long been scrutinized on the… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: 10 effortlessly stylish items for fall

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Wednesday Central Alberta Historical Society annual general meeting is 6 p.m. at… Continue reading

Trump front and centre as talk of trade, jobs emerges on campaign trail

OTTAWA — A familiar U.S. face finally showed up front and centre… Continue reading

RDC Kings and Queens cross country dominate on home turf

There was a lot of pride floating around amongst the host team… Continue reading

Hunting Hills Lightning cruise past Foothills Falcons in high school football action

The Hunting Hills Lightning showed their Football Alberta ranking was no fluke… Continue reading

Two students dead, several seriously injured in Vancouver Island bus rollover

Two University of Victoria students died and several people were injured after… Continue reading

‘It’s time:’ Paralyzed Bronco returning to Humboldt for first time since crash

For the first time in 526 days, former Broncos hockey player Ryan… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $27 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $27 million jackpot… Continue reading

White House says bin Laden son killed in US operation

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Saturday that Hamza bin Laden ,… Continue reading

Most Read