Canada’s Supreme Court dealt a blow to cannabis advocates and would-be home cultivators in Quebec this week when it issued a ruling upholding Quebec’s home cultivation ban. According to federal law in Canada, adult households can cultivate up to 4 plants as part of a nationwide legalization measure that was passed in late 2018.
However, Quebec’s government instituted a home cultivation ban within its borders, and that ban was challenged via a case that initially started back in 2019 involving an adult consumer who directly challenged the home cultivation prohibition policy.
Under Quebec law, adult households can still be fined between $250 and $750 for home cultivation violations. According to Canada’s top Court, Quebec’s continued prohibition on home cultivation is constitutional, and the vote was unanimous. Per CBC:
Murray-Hall’s lawyer argued that Quebec’s ban on owning and cultivating plants for personal use is unconstitutional and contradicts the federal cannabis law enacted in 2018.
On Friday, the Supreme Court emphatically disagreed.
According to the ruling, the provincial law meshes well with the overall goals of the federal one, which include protecting the health and security of the public and steering users away from the black market.
Much of what is troubling, beyond the effect of the ruling itself, is the reasoning behind the Court’s decision.
“The Quebec legislature saw the possession and personal cultivation of cannabis not as a social evil to be suppressed, but rather as a practice that should be prohibited in order to steer consumers to a controlled source of supply,” the ruling stated.
“It is true that, in everyday language and even in the speeches of some parliamentarians, the creation of exceptions or exemptions under a scheme of criminal offences is often described as a ‘legalization effort,'” the ruling also stated. “However, this way of speaking is incorrect and falsely suggests that positive rights authorizing particular conduct have been granted to the public.”
Manitoba has also banned home cultivation, and being that this ruling comes from Canada’s top Court, the ruling applies nationwide. Hopefully other jurisdictions do not pile on via their own home cultivation prohibition policies. Furthermore, lawmakers in Canada need to step up and pass a measure that expressly provides for adult-use home cultivation nationwide so that local jurisdictions do not have that option.