The legislation on cannabis

Regulating cannabis in Québec


The Government of Canada introduced Bill C-45 on April 13, 2017, respecting the legalization of cannabis, to control and regulate the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada. The bill received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018.

In general, the objectives of the Act are:

  • to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis;
  • to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements;
  • to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework ;
  • to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.

The federal legislation and its regulations establish a nation-wide framework in matters, namely:

  • of commercial production;
  • of health and safety standards;
  • of criminal prohibitions.

Québec’s approach

Cannabis involves significant risks for public health and safety, therefore the government of Québec must stringently regulate the substance in response to the federal government’s intent to legalize its production and sale.

The proposed regulation aims mainly to reduce the risks and harm to the health and safety of individuals. Emphasis is placed specifically on the following:

  • protecting the health and safety of persons, in particular those of the most vulnerable groups, including young persons;
  • preventing the initiation to cannabis use, particularly of teenagers, young adults and vulnerable groups of the population;
  • promoting the integration of consumers into the legal market from the perspective that the regulated sale of quality-controlled products will reduce health risks; and
  • ensuring road safety.

In order to establish the control and regulation, the government of Québec consulted with experts, citizens and organizations in the summer of 2017. Following these consultations, a bill on the control and regulation of cannabis in Québec was introduced in November 2017. The Act to constitute the Société québécoise du cannabis, to enact the Cannabis Regulation Act and to amend various highway safety-related provisions was assented to on June 12, 2018. Until it comes into force, the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes remains illegal in Québec.

The legislative framework provides for rapid adaptation levers to take into account unforeseen situations as well as the advancement of knowledge, and therefore includes several regulatory powers.

Coming into force of the legalization of cannabis

The federal government announced that the legalization of cannabis will take effect on October 17, 2018. Until then, cannabis remains illegal in Canada, unless its use is for medical purposes and complies with the specific conditions of use.

In the case of the amendments to the Criminal Code and other federal acts in the Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (Statutes of Canada, 2018, chapter 21) relating to driving under the influence of cannabis, the date of coming into force announced by the federal government is December 18, 2018.

Last update: August 6, 2018 11:11 AM