It may be legal across the country, the Québec Court of Appeal has ruled local bans on growing pot at home are constitutional.
“These are to prevent and reduce the harms of cannabis in order to protect the health and safety of the population, particularly those of young people,” wrote the Québec Court, as reported by Blacklock Reporter.
Nothing in Parliament’s legalization of recreational cannabis prohibited provinces from imposing restrictions of their own, it said.
A similar challenge of a Manitoba ban is pending.
Parliament in 2018 passed Bill C-45 An Act Respecting Cannabis that allowed home cultivation of up to four marijuana plants and unlimited private storage of dried cannabis. Cabinet rejected Senate amendments that would have allowed provinces to ban home cultivation.
Then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould in 2018 testimony at the Senate constitutional affairs committee said federal lawyers would not challenge any local ban on home cultivation. “Do I understand the Government of Canada would leave it totally to the courts?” asked then-Senator André Pratte (Que.). “It is not the intention of the federal government with respect to home cultivation to challenge provincial laws,” replied Wilson-Raybould.
Québec, Manitoba and Nunavut introduced restrictions on home cultivation. Cabinet at the time said it would not object if any First Nations also banned cannabis outright under the Indian Act.
Legislators had criticized Bill C-45 as so flawed it left key details to the courts. “I can’t hide my disappointment,” said Senator Éric Forest (Que.). “The government knows very well that legal challenges will come almost as soon as the bill is passed.”
“Politics is the art of compromise but I don’t see the government wanting to compromise,” said Forest. “I firmly believe in the principle of respect for jurisdictions.”
Parts of the bill were opposed by the Canadian Medical Association, chiefs of police, municipalities, realtors, insurers and federally-regulated employers who sought new rights to enforce workplace drug bans. “Who knows what is going to happen when it is legal?” Randall McCauley, vice-president of government relations for the Canadian Real Estate Association, testified at 2018 hearings of the Senate social affairs committee.
“To start out and say, we’ll legalize marijuana and everything will fall into place, it does not work that way,” then-Senator Raynell Andreychuk (Sask.) said in final debate on the bill.
“The most significant impact is not going to be on people my age, or adults,” said Andreychuk. “The most significant impact is on the silent citizens, those who do not have a vote, the children of Canada. It will be them, and their children, that will be impacted by this law.”