Quebec Unveils 'Zero-Tolerance' Marijuana Plan: No Home-Grown Cannabis Allowed

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Ron Strider

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Quebec will have zero tolerance for driving-while-high under its plan for legalized marijuana use and sale.

Under draft legislation introduced Thursday, the province's Liberal government would authorize police to test saliva samples from drivers and allow police to immediately suspend the license of anyone driving with a trace of cannabis or illicit drugs for 90 days.

"Our bill introduces a new principle of zero tolerance for drugs for all drivers," said Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois as she introduced the bill.

The measure goes a step further than Ontario's plan, which has proposed stiffer penalties for commercial drivers and those under 21 years of age who drive while under the influence of cannabis.

While Ottawa's draft legislation legalizing marijuana would allow people to grow small amounts, Quebec will continue to outlaw growing pot at home. The Société québécoise du Cannabis will have exclusive legal control of recreational use, selling the product through a limited number of storefronts and online.

Quebec hasn't had a proliferation of pot dispensaries like in British Columbia and Ontario, where scores of storefronts have popped up in recent years.

Polls show Quebeckers are more uneasy than most Canadians with legalized marijuana. On Wednesday, the Quebec government asked Ottawa to extend the July 1 deadline for legalization.

The opposition criticized the Quebec government for being slow to introduce its plan and then attempting to rush it through the National Assembly by Christmas. The plan does not specify price or permissible levels of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

"I can tell you the Hells Angels aren't worried, faced with a government so ill-prepared and unable to give us elementary numbers," said Nicolas Marceau, the Parti Québécois finance critic, in reference to the motorcycle gang's role in the black-market drug trade.

Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said discussions haven't even begun with Ottawa over how it will share excise tax on cannabis. The government also said permissible levels of THC will come in regulations.

Quebec's draft law will restrict smoking marijuana to places where smoking cigarettes is legal, mainly in private dwellings and in designated outdoor areas. It additionally bans marijuana consumption on school and university campuses.

Alberta is set to introduce its cannabis legislation Thursday afternoon.

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Full Article: Quebec unveils ‘zero-tolerance’ marijuana plan: No home-grown cannabis allowed - The Globe and Mail
Author: Les Perreaux
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