The Quebec provincial government has plans to implement a ban on smoking cannabis in any and all public spaces for the City of Montreal is making it clear that this would be impossible to enforce.
Bill 2 would enforce a province-wide ban on smoking cannabis in public spaces as well as raise the legal consumption age from 18 to 21.
The Mayor of Montreal Valerie Plante believes the city should be exempt from these rules if they are implemented and has recently spoken at public hearings to voice the city’s concerns about the bill. Both she and police Chief Sylvain Caron have state that the way of life in Montreal is different from other parts of the province and that it would be much more difficult to enforce the law.
“Municipalities should have the right to decide what makes sense on their territory. I do not believe in ‘one for all.’ Montreal is different than Baie-Comeau or Rouyn-Noranda,” she said.
She added that 60 percent of Montreal residents are tenants, making it nearly impossible for them to smoke in what is supposed to be their home.
“We cannot just tell them go and smoke in your home. It doesn’t necessarily work that way, because for tenants it’s different than if you own your own house,” said Plante.
Both Plante and Sylvain included in the brief they presented to the committee that this proposed ban would be a logistical nightmare for law enforcement in the province, and especially for Montreal.
“Montreal’s limited police resources must be used mainly to ensure the security of citizens,” the brief says.
Coalition Avenir Quebec government minister in charge of cannabis, Lionel Carmant is adamant that they are not backing away from this bill and that they have no plans to make exceptions for any one municipality.
“We aren’t backing away, this is clear,” he told reporters on Tuesday at the National Assembly. “What we want to do is reduce consumption among youth, and allowing people to smoke in public risks increasing (their use of pot).”
The government has been heavily criticized for the proposed bill but Carmant’s response is that people should consider consuming cannabis edibles instead of smoking if they take an issue with not being able to smoke in public places.
At least 360 municipalities in Quebec, including Montreal, have told the government that they need to respect municipal autonomy and that this new bill would infringe on that. The Quebec Bar Association has also said that the government may face a constitutional challenge due to possible age discrimination if they change the legal consumption age to 21 since the legal age to smoke and drink is 18.