If people were hoping Quebec would be a bit more lax in its weed regulations than other provinces, they must now be sorely disappointed.
The province known for selling booze in corner stores has decided to open only 15 government-run dispensaries for people to purchase weed when the drug becomes legal next year, with up to 150 in two years. That works out to roughly one store per 550,000 people. Ontario, by comparison, is opening 40 stores by next summer, increasing to 80 by 2019, and 150 by 2020.
The SAQ (provincial liquor corporation) has more than 400 branches across Quebec and 840 points of sale.
Quebecers will also be allowed to buy weed online. The legal age for purchasing weed will be 18.
Quebec is also outright banning growing weed at home; the federal government’s proposed laws allow for up to four plants per home for recreational pot users.
When it comes to driving, Quebec is going with zero tolerance for drivers who have any drugs in their system. Ontario is planning on going with zero tolerance with young and novice drivers. In Quebec, cops will be able to demand saliva samples and issue 90-day license suspensions to drivers who test positive for THC.
According to CBC, Transport Minister André Fortin said, “The message we want to send is: if you consume cannabis, don't drive.”
Standardized THC tests for drivers don’t yet exist in Canada. Beyond that, the federal government has admitted it's difficult to determine how much THC has to be consumed for a person to be impaired. One could assume the tough driving penalties will present an issue for medical pot users, who may consume weed daily.
Of the other provinces who’ve announced rollout plans, Alberta and Manitoba are allowing private stores, while Ontario and New Brunswick are going with government monopolies.
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Correction: An initial version of this story said Quebec was opening 20 dispensaries for July 1, it is only 15.