Quebec homegrown cannabis ban constitutional, Canada’s high court rules

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Canada’s Supreme Court on Friday upheld Quebec’s prohibition on homegrown cannabis, ruling that a provincial ban on possessing and cultivating marijuana plants for personal purposes is constitutional.

Quebec is one of the provinces that does not allow the home cultivation of cannabis.

Manitoba’s ban is also being challenged in court.

When Canada legalized marijuana in 2018, Quebec Cannabis Regulation Act prohibited the possession and cultivation of the plant for personal use.

In 2019, Janick Murray-Hall successfully challenged the ban before the province’s Superior Court.

Murray-Hall had argued that the Quebec government does not have the power to ban cannabis plants, saying only the federal government has that authority.

He also argued federal law should prevail over the provincial law.

After Murray-Hall’s argument was successful and Quebec’s ban was declared unconstitutional, the province’s attorney general appealed the decision.

The province won its appeal at the Quebec Court of Appeal, so Murray-Hall took the decision to the Canadian Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal in a unanimous ruling announced early Friday.

Kirk Tousaw, lawyer for the plaintiff in the Manitoba court challenge, said the Supreme Court found it was within the provincial government’s power to ban home growing, with penalties of small fines, in support of the province’s state monopoly on cannabis sales.

“The Court was careful, however, not to say whether or not that was good policy or likely to be effective,” he told MJBizDaily.

“In my view, prohibition is a proven failure and Quebec’s prohibition-lite is, also, a failed policy.”

The Manitoba case is pending a decision in the Court of King’s Bench.

Tousaw told MJBizDaily that Jesse Lavoie, the plaintiff in the Manitoba challenge, and TobaGrown, a cannabis company based in the province, will continue the fight for home cultivation.

“We believe that the Quebec legislation differs significantly on the facts and that our challenge may still succeed due to those differences,” Tousaw said.

“For example, the fines in Manitoba are dramatically higher and the province’s retail scheme is nowhere near as monopolistic as that in Quebec.

“Further, the legislative history in Manitoba shows a much more criminal law intent behind the ban.”