Quebec court overturns home growing ban, rules it unconstitutional

Citizens of Quebec will now be able to grow their own cannabis after the province’s Superior Court overturned a ban on home growing on Tuesday.

While the federal law allows Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants in their home, Quebec’s own cannabis laws passed in June 2018 banned it.

Now, Quebec Superior Court Judge Manon Lavoie has ruled that the ban is unconstitutional because it infringes on federal jurisdiction on criminal matters.

This means that Quebecers can now grow up to four cannabis plants without fear of legal repercussions.

However, they may not have that luxury for long.

Lawyer Julien Fortier, who led the challenge against the ban, told CBC and the Montreal Gazette that the province has 30 days to appeal the ruling and there is a “very strong chance” it will do so. The province could ask for the ban to be in place during the appeal process.

Since the ruling was “very technical” and largely based on constitutional law — no evidence was filed — Fortier said the province could also rewrite the law to make it constitutional.

Fortier took on the case after being approached by a citizen who wished to fight the ban on behalf of the people of Quebec.

He believes that homegrown cannabis can help prevent the drug from landing in the hands of organized crime.

“The entire idea behind the legalization of cannabis was that the government wanted to remove the production of this plant from organized crime,” Fortier told the Montreal Gazette. “If you allow people to cultivate this plant themselves, that purpose would be achieved.”

The ban was initially put in place to help limit consumption and access to children, according to Lucie Charlebois, the minister behind Quebec’s cannabis law. She pointed out that consumers could go to 15 legal stores in Quebec instead of growing it at home.

“Why do you want to pay a ticket instead of buying it (cannabis) at the store where we will sell that product at a competitive price?” she asked the Montreal Gazette.

While Quebec’s ban went in the face of Ottawa’s law, then-Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said in June that the federal government had no plans of contesting the ban, according to the Montreal Gazette.

According to Global News, no charges had been laid in Quebec for home growing cannabis as of June, and only one charge had been laid in Manitoba, the only other province with a similar ban.

Cannabis lawyer Matt Maurer explained to Global News that the law is difficult to enforce.

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