Cannabis consultations begin with more questions than answers
Published Thursday, September 7, 2017 1:32PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 7, 2017 7:01PM EDT
Less than a year out from the legalization of cannabis nationwide, Quebec is holding public consultations on the matter.
More than a dozen organizations gathered at the Palais des Congres Thursday to voice a wide range of concerns and pose many unanswered questions.
Many of the groups also pitched their proposals to Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois.
One group spoke of concerns about driving while impaired, noting that there is very little data on how much THC (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) is too much behind the wheel. The group suggested leading a study on the issue.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants the government to impose strict rules when it comes to driving while stoned.
"The main issue is really--and this can be done today, this doesn't have to wait until the whole bill is passed or anything--is to impose a zero tolerance for young drivers or anyone who is on the gradual licensing," said Marie-Claude Morin of MADD.
Landlords also spoke about the possible negative effects if tenants are allowed to smoke and grow cannabis in their apartments.
Martin Messier of the Quebec Landlords Association said his group's concerns was for neighbours who didn't want to deal with secondhand pot smoke.
"Because it was illegal it was easier to either negotiate with the tenant and the rental board and evict them, but now it's going to be legal' so its going to be way more difficult to get to an agreement and that's a huge concen for us," he said.
Alexis Turcotte-Noel of MTL 420, a company hoping to capitalize on the tourism aspect of cannabis, spoke of hoping to open up coffee shops similar to those found in Amsterdam and hosting a type of marijuana tour, similar to wine tours.
He said it would help avoid people toking to excess.
"The activity will help prevent that because the guide or the server, he's going to help you know how to consume," said Turcotte-Noel.
One concern brought up frequently was prevention.
“Up to now we take about 2.8 per cent of the health care budget for prevention,” explained Diane Francoeur of the Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists. “And when we look at other countries where legalization of cannabis is not an issue yet, they put in 5 to 5.5 per cent. We’re having something that may have a health impact, especially on youth, teenagers and young adults. We don’t know what the impact will be.”
Charlebois would not comment specifically about the proposals and concerns, saying the consultations was all about listening.
"We're going to improve the law, like we did with tobacco, but we are going to have a good framework law and we are going to do our best to protect the health and security of the population," said Charlebois.
She added government will table a bill in the next few months.