Quebec Has The Strictest Legal Age For Cannabis In Canada Starting Jan. 1, 2020
But you can still legally drink at 18.
Even though cannabis is legal across the country, that doesn't mean that there are no restrictions. One province is kicking it up a notch by raising the legal age more than any other province. The legal cannabis age in Quebec is will be the strictest in Canada at 21.
In the fall, the Coalition Avenir Quebec government passed legislation that changed the legal age for cannabis in the province from 18, citing how cannabis can impact young minds as the reason why.
Now, that legislation is finally coming into effect.
As of January 1, 2020, people under the age of 21 won't be able to buy cannabis legally or even possess it.
However, research has found that bumping up the age restriction might not be the deterrent the government is hoping for.
Universite de Montreal addictions researcher Jean-Sebastien Fallu told The Canadian Press that when it was illegal, almost half of people in Quebec had tried cannabis at least once by the age of 17.
"You have 50% who'd used once in their lifetime, despite the threat of criminalized prohibition. So I don't think this [new rule] is going to have any significant impact on underage, minor or adolescent use," he said.
After hearing of the change, people on Twitter were quick to point out the discrepancy between the legal age for alcohol and cannabis.
In December 2018, Premier François Legault said that his government wouldn't be changing laws surrounding how old you have to be to drink.
For cannabis, provinces and territories can establish their own rules when it comes to age restrictions. Federal law has the minimum age set at 18.
According to The Canadian Press, every province has the legal age at 19 expect for Alberta, which is 18, and Quebec, which is now going to be 21.
Daniel Weinstock, director of the institute for health and social policy at McGill University, told The Canadian Press that the Quebec government is clear that the restriction is because of the risk cannabis has for young, developing brains, but there's still a problem.
"The problem is the amount of cannabis that's already present in the illegal market. We have to think long and hard about our ability to effectively enforce prohibition," he said. "And if we can't, and I strongly suspect we won't be able to, we risk finding ourselves in the worst of all possible situations."
That would be young people under the legal age not having knowledge about cannabis and then buying from illegal dealers, which could mean contaminated and unregulated products.
Along with the age restriction, Quebec also banned the public consumption of cannabis and introduced restrictions on edibles.