Quebec to begin consultations before tabling cannabis legislation this fall

Quebec to begin consultations before tabling cannabis legislation this fall

Quebec Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health Lucie Charlebois responds to reporters questions, Friday, December 2, 2016 at the legislature in Quebec City. The Quebec government will begin a series of consultations in the coming weeks as it prepares to introduce legislation this fall to govern the use of recreational cannabis.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot.

MONTREAL — The Quebec government is calling on international experts to help it get ready when federal legislation legalizing the sale of recreation marijuana comes into force in one year’s time.

Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois announced Monday the province will begin a series of consultations in the coming weeks as it prepares to introduce its own legislation this fall.

The process will begin with a forum of national and international experts in Montreal on June 19-20.

“We’re going to have people where it’s already legalized, so we’re going to have a lot of points of view,” she told a news conference.

Charlebois said regional consultations will follow from late August until mid-September.

Anyone who wants to add comments will be allowed to do so via the Internet.

“We don’t have any choice — we’ve got to be ready,” she said, adding that if Quebec is not prepared, people from elsewhere will move in and start selling marijuana in the province.

She also said if nothing is done, criminal organizations will continue to sell marijuna without buyers knowing what it contains.

“We have to have a good framework to protect our population,” Charlebois said.

She said everything will be on the table, adding the province is not starting with any preconceived ideas.

But Charlebois indicated she shares Finance Minister Carlos Leitao’s view that marijuana should not be distributed at Quebec Liquor Corp. outlets.

In April, the federal Liberal government introduced legislation proposing that Canadians 18 and older be allowed to buy and cultivate small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

But a Quebec association representing psychiatrists says the proposal is unacceptable in its current form and poses risks to the mental health of young people.

The Association des medecins psychiatres du Quebec pointed out Monday the human brain continues to develop until the age of about 25.

It recommends that youth should not be allowed to buy recreational cannabis until at least the age of 21, instead of 18.

Charlebois would not comment when asked about the recommendation.

The Canadian Press
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