Quebec's Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois kicks off a tour of the province Tuesday to gather input on how her government should regulate marijuana use when it becomes legalized next year.
While it is federal legislation that will make the drug legal beginning in July 2018, it is up to the provinces to decide many of the rules that will govern its consumption and sale.
Quebec must decide the legal age limit, how pot will be produced and sold and what kinds of driving restrictions to impose. It has less than a year to draft, and pass, legislation that will answer these questions.
"We would have liked to have had more time. I won't hide it. That said, we don't have a choice," Charlebois said.
Seven regions have their say
Both experts and ordinary citizens have registered to provide Charlebois feedback during her seven-region tour of the province.
The tour begins Tuesday in Rimouski before one-day sessions are held in Quebec City, Saguenay, Trois-Rivières Granby and Montreal. The final session will be held Sept.12 in Gatineau.
In Rimouski, Charlebois is expected to hear from a suicide prevention centre and public health officials from the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands. Individual citizens will workshop their ideas in groups.
Upcoming bill will need to change
Charlebois said the provincial government is planning to table its marijuana bill this fall. But she also warned that whatever legislation is passed will likely be adjusted as time goes on.
"Just because we are producing a first draft doesn't mean it can't be perfected," she said.
Charlebois noted that the provincial law on tobacco has been changed several times over the years. "It will be the same thing for cannabis," she said.