Legalization of cannabis: a lot of headaches for the citizens

Légalisation du cannabis: bien des maux de tête pour les citoyens

While Quebec has decided to ban cannabis everywhere where smoking is prohibited smoking, the list of cities that are going to have a regulation even more restrictive — where alcohol is banned in all outdoor public places — is growing.

The citizens must be well informed : when they travel from one municipality to another, the rules may be different. They will be able to consume cannabis on the sidewalks of a city, but not in the neighbor.

Starting next week, the cannabis recreational is legal in Canada and can be purchased in a store near you.

In anticipation of this legalization, the government of québec adopted, in June the Law governing cannabis (formerly known as bill 157) which establishes, in particular, where it will be allowed to use cannabis. Basically, according to this law, smoking marijuana will be prohibited in the same places as tobacco. It will therefore be allowed to smoke in the street, but not in the shops, bars and restaurants, no more than on the grounds of colleges and universities, and on bike paths.

Law “too permissive”

But several municipalities have found that this legislation is too permissive. They want to rather prohibit them on the same basis as alcohol. Many of them have consulted their people about it.

In short, when the date of the legalization will happen, they do not want to see cannabis in public places on their territory, such as parks, streets and sidewalks, alleys, and dog parks. Also prohibits being in a state of intoxication caused by the consumption of drugs in a public place.

Among municipalities of over 50 000 inhabitants to adopt this approach more hard, we find Quebec, Drummondville, Sherbrooke, Lévis, Saguenay, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Jérôme, Repentigny, Granby, Blainville. Some of them have already adopted their municipal regulations in view of the October 17, and others have made known their intentions in this sense.

Other municipalities of this size prefer to defer to the quebec act. This is the case of Trois-Rivières, Laval, Gatineau and Montreal.

And others have not yet decided : Terrebonne, Brossard, Saint-Hyacinthe give themselves the time to think about it.

The power to go so far away?

Can municipalities go so far in their prohibitions?

Yes, according to a lawyer specializing in municipal law Isabelle Landry : the municipalities have the power to do so and be more severe than the government of Québec. Not according to the new powers granted by the Law regulating the cannabis, but, by virtue of their general powers to ensure “the peace, order, good government and general well-being of the population”.

However, they cannot be more permissive, ” adds the expert, who works at the firm BCF.

It considers the parallel with the alcohol well illustrates the situation : “The alcohol, it is legal in Quebec, but we did not have the right to drink in public places or to be intoxicated in public. It is definitely up there as will a number of municipalities.”

But citizens might find themselves without any place to consume cannabis when it will be legal : not in the street, not in bars or restaurants, and sometimes not even at home, because many landlords prohibit it in their leases.

But to Me, Landry believes that it would be difficult for them to allege that the municipalities are excessive and to challenge their rules and regulations — these restrictions are within the limits of the law, the judge does it. With regard to the prohibitions in the housing, this is not their jurisdiction.

For it, the problem may be elsewhere.

“Me, my question is : how municipalities are going to be done to disseminate it. The citizens are going to perhaps see it in the municipal newsletter, but the visitors, themselves, will know how as they are not allowed to smoke on the sidewalk?” asks the expert. Will there be a sign indicating the prohibition to the entrance of the city? Will there be signs at every 200 meters for parking?

“It may be that the problem of municipalities : how to make that work.”

No one is supposed to ignore the law, pointed out, however, the lawyer who points out that this will not be a defence to the offence of smoking in places where cannabis is prohibited.

And then, the rules will be different from one municipality to the other, ” she warns.

Different in Montreal

In Montreal, it could even be different from one borough to the other, while some have already expressed their desire to restrict the cannabis on the streets and even undertaken steps in this direction.

This is one of the reasons why some municipalities are still in the process of thinking. Saint-Hyacinthe, for example, will take a position in the next few weeks, because she wants to have a regulation in harmony with the other cities of the MRC, said a spokesman.

But the new government of the Coalition avenir Québec will perhaps relieve the municipalities of this task : it has already announced its intention to prohibit the consumption of cannabis in all the public places of the province.

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OTTAWA HAD ORIGINALLY PLANNED TO AMEND THE LABOUR CODE TO THE POT

Légalisation du cannabis: bien des maux de tête pour les citoyens

Documents disclosed under the Act on access to information show that the minister of Labour, Patty Hajdu, received in the month of June of suggestions on how to address potential problems of cannabis use in the workplace.

123RF/Dolgachov

OTTAWA — The federal government has quietly amended the canada labour Code in view of the legalization of cannabis as a recreational next week, according to documents obtained by The canadian Press.

The documents disclosed under the Act on access to information show that the minister of Labour, Patty Hajdu, received in the month of June of suggestions on how to address potential problems of consumption in the workplace.

The various federal departments tried then to develop their own policies to regulate the consumption of cannabis for their employees. They were informed that the minister Hajdu is considering an amendment to the canada labour Code, notably to tag the possible drug testing among workers.

Officials said Wednesday that no new federal standard will be finally announced during the next week. Companies are encouraged to establish their own policy which clearly defines what is allowed in terms of consumption of cannabis and the penalties which exposes an employee who violates these rules.

“Federally regulated employers do not tolerate the altered states in the workplace — this will not change the 17 October”, said the minister Hajdu in a press release.

Canadian Forces

There is currently no provision in the canada labour Code and on the testing of drugs and alcohol, with the exception of the canadian armed Forces, and successive governments since the late 80’s held away from the question.

A federal committee composed of business associations and workers debated for two years without reaching an agreement.

According to the representatives of the workers, the current rules are sufficient in the absence of evidence that employees show up at work intoxicated and thus represent a danger.

“Nobody has presented the slightest proof of a major crisis”, stressed Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian labour Congress, a trade union confederation.

But the groupings of employers are not satisfied with the status quo.

The president of the ETCOF, an association of employers under federal jurisdiction, stipulates that its members claim only to the rules of screening for jobs that pose a risk to the public.

“We have never claimed that the sky was in the process of we fall on the head, said Derrick Hynes. What we want, these are preventive mechanisms that can change behaviour in order to ensure that the few cases in which this may occur do not pass between the meshes of the net.”

The canada labour Code applies to all workplaces regulated by the federal government and concerns, therefore, about 1 worker in 10. It requires employers to spread their risks, while the employees are required to work in a safe manner. Jordan Press (The canadian Press)

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