Where can you legally enjoy your cannabis in Quebec, come October 17th?
Despite being one of the strictest provinces when it comes to cannabis regulations, Quebec’s Bill 157 stipulates that consuming cannabis in public is allowed anywhere smoking tobacco is permitted – the only exception being on university and college campuses. So far vaping and smoking are treated in the same manner.
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What’s off limits
Daycares, school property, public transit, hospital entrances, university and CEGEP grounds, restaurant and bar terraces, workplaces, children’s parks, indoor public spaces.
The street, most parks, private property, outdoor parking lots, balconies.
What could change
With an upcoming provincial election on October 1, the future of cannabis in Quebec is up in the air. The Coalition Avenir Québec, who are believed to be the currently ruling Liberals’ biggest threat, kicked off their campaign by promising to make changes to cannabis accessibility.
CAQ leader François Legault has repeatedly criticized current premier Phillipe Couillard’s plans for legalization, on the basis that Bill 157 makes cannabis too accessible. If elected, the CAQ says it would increase the minimum age of access from 18 to 21, accusing the Liberals of “trivializing youth cannabis use.”
They have also been hyper-critical (along with Jean-François Lisée’s Parti Québecois) of allowing municipalities to make their own rules with regards to smoking in public.
Some condo associations and landlords are discussing the possibility of banning smoking inside private apartments and condos.
Montreal businesses have lobbied for the creation of permits for cannabis smoke/vape lounges, similar to the cigar and shisha lounges that already exist. So far, they have been unsuccessful.
In March 2018, the greater-Montreal community of Hampstead banned smoking (of all substances) in all public places in anticipation of cannabis legalization. It is the first Canadian municipality to do so, with the mayor citing “the smell” and setting “a bad example for youth” as justification for doing so. Penalties range from a $250 to $1500 per citation.
Montreal mayor Valérie Plante has said that the city will allow cannabis consumption anywhere smoking tobacco is permitted, although she would like to have some control over smoking rules for certain public events. Quebec City is similarly allowing cannabis where tobacco is permitted, for now.
The mayor of St-Jerôme, Stéphane Maher, wants cannabis to be banned not only in his own municipality but in every public place in Quebec.
The UMQ and FQM, Quebec’s two largest municipal associations, have stated that they want the ability to restrict and control where smokers are able to consume in public.