Supreme Court of Canada to Rule on Quebec Cannabis Ban
Janick Murray-Hall v. Attorney General of Quebec will be heard on Thursday, September 15.
Quebec’s Cannabis Growing Ban
How did Quebec end up the odd-duck out with their home-growing cannabis ban?
In 2018, the federal government legalized recreational cannabis. In the federal Cannabis Act, the government stipulated that people can grow up to four plants per household.
And then, provinces and territories have their sphere of influence, like regulating the retail cannabis sector.
In Quebec, however, the provincial government enacted a law banning people from owning and growing cannabis plants for personal use.
Violators could face up to $750 in fines.
Janick Murray-Hall, wasn’t having it. He called the Quebec law unconstitutional and sued the government.
Lower Courts Rule on Quebec Cannabis Ban
So how have Quebec’s lower courts ruled?
Murray-Hall argues that growing cannabis plants are under the federal government’s jurisdiction. For example, you are charged under federal criminal law if caught growing more than four plants.
Ergo, Quebec does not have the authority to ban home growing. According to section 91(27) of Canada’s Constitution, these matters belong to Ottawa.
With that said, says Murray-Hall, Quebec’s ban should have no force or effect because federal law overrules provincial law. Quebec’s cannabis ban is ultra vires to the federal Cannabis Act.
Quebec’s Superior Court judge agreed and declared the Quebec ban unconstitutional. But then, the Attorney General of Quebec appealed the decision.
Quebec’s Court of Appeal disagreed, and they ruled the ban was constitutional because it is a matter of provincial jurisdiction.
This time, the judge pointed to sections of the Canadian Constitution. Section 92(13) says provinces can make property and civil rights laws. And section 92(16) permits the provincial government to make laws of a local nature.
So, the Court of Appeal interpreted the Constitution to mean that Quebec can ban growing cannabis plants for personal use.
Supreme Court of Canada to Rule
The Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether Quebec’s ban on growing cannabis plants for personal use is constitutional.
The case is worth paying attention to for any precedents that the case may set. If the Supreme Court rules with Quebec, it may inspire British Columbia‘s leadership to become bolder against Ottawa’s encroachment into BC Bud territory.
Overall, it’ll settle the question of whether federal cannabis laws can overrule incompatible provincial ones.