Quebec doesn’t want people to grow their own weed

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Quebec’s government tabled its law to regulate recreational weed sales on Thursday that would prohibit people from growing cannabis at home, even though federal regulations will allow adults to grow up to four plants for personal use.

So far Quebec is the only province to pursue such a restrictive measure on all home growing for recreational purposes, and anyone caught with plants could be slapped with a fine up to $750. This would not apply to those with a valid medical cannabis license. Alberta’s proposed cannabis legislation would ban people from growing their own cannabis outdoors, but would allow indoor plants up to 1 metre in height.

Trina Fraser, a lawyer with the Ottawa-based firm Brazeau Seller who specializes in cannabis regulations, said Quebec’s home growing ban may not be effective.

Drug policy experts have warned against high taxes on legal cannabis in order to prevent consumers from purchasing their weed on the black market in order to save money.

“This will probably only get enforced when law enforcement has other reasons to be at a residence and comes across cultivation activities,” Fraser told VICE News. “And I suspect many people will not consider a fine of $250-$750 to be a sufficient disincentive to forego growing four cannabis plants of their own.”

Quebec’s Cannabis Regulations Act would also follow Ontario’s lead and give the provincial liquor board a monopoly over recreational weed sales through a new crown corporation, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC). Adults over the age of 18 would be able to purchase cannabis, although the province has yet to determine how much it will cost. Ontario is considering setting the price at $10 per gram.

The federal government announced last week it’s considering leveling a tax of at least $1 per gram on legal weed sales, in addition to provincial taxes.

Drug policy experts have warned against high taxes on legal cannabis in order to prevent consumers from purchasing their weed on the black market in order to save money. One of the government’s key reasons for legalizing weed was to undercut the profits criminal groups earn from selling cannabis.

More details on Quebec’s plan are expected to be announced in the future.

“It’s not the end, it’s only the beginning,” provincial health minister Lucie Charlebois told reporters at a news conference on Thursday. “It’s certain that we will have to adapt.”

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