By / April 18, 2023

Canadian Supreme Court Confimrs Quebec Can Ban Home-Grown Cannabis

The Canadian Supreme Court on Friday confirmed that Quebec has the right to prohibit Quebecers from growing their own cannabis at home, ruling that the province’s ban on possessing and growing cannabis plants for personal use is constitutional.

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A Landmark Case for Quebec

This landmark case, which has been making its way through the courts since 2019 when it was raised by Quebec resident Janick Murray-Hall, argued that such a ban was unconstitutional.

The Quebec government had argued that it had the right to ban cannabis cultivation at home altogether and that it was doing so to protect young people. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of this decision, finding that the provincial government’s ban on the home cultivation of cannabis did not conflict with federal legislation that allows Canadians to grow up to four plants in their homes.

The Case for Quebec Won on Appeals

Although Murray-Hall’s legal team initially won the case, the provincial government appealed, and in September 2021, the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned that decision, ruling that the province did, in fact, have the right to ban the home cultivation of cannabis in Quebec. His legal team appealed that decision, leading to the final Supreme Court ruling.

Federal regulations allow Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants per household. Provinces are allowed to place restrictions on this authorization, such as limiting the number of plants and/or requiring that they be grown in a secure area or out of public view.

However, in developing the cannabis legislation and regulations, the federal government argued that limiting the number of cannabis plants to zero or banning them altogether would be outside its jurisdiction.

Cannabis Ruling Similar to Alcohol

The same is true for the federal age limit of 18 for access to alcohol, which the provinces can raise. All provinces and territories in Canada, with the exception of Alberta and Quebec, have set the age of access to cannabis at 19. Alberta has set the age at 18 and Quebec at 21.

Quebec and Manitoba were the only two provinces to challenge this authority by banning home cultivation altogether. This decision may have an impact on another case in Manitoba seeking to overturn that province’s own ban.

Court Ruling Was Unanimous for Quebec

The Quebec ban on the self-cultivation of cannabis does not apply to persons licensed to grow cannabis for medical purposes. Being caught growing cannabis at home without a medical license is punishable by a fine of up to $750.

Jack Lloyd, lead counsel in a similar case challenging Manitoba’s ban on home-grown cannabis, says he is disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision on the Quebec issue but doesn’t think it weakens his case.

“While we are disappointed for Quebec, we don’t think the Manitoba law is valid simply because of this decision.”

“The objective for Quebec was to strengthen its provincial monopoly and sales, as in R. v. Comeau,” he continues. “Manitoba’s objective is to issue criminal sanctions against cannabis growers, which is a purely criminal matter and therefore not within the jurisdiction of the province of Manitoba.”

(Featured image by Patrice Audet (CC0 1.0) via Wikimedia Commons)

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