Quebec's government-run pot stores have a name: the Société Québécoise du Cannabis
Province poised to table legislation Thursday aimed at ensuring 'public health and security'
The Quebec government is set to table legislation Thursday that will provide a framework for legalized marijuana, but details are already emerging, including the name of the organization that will handle its sale: the Société Québécoise du Cannabis.
Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois acknowledged Wednesday that the bill won't be perfect, but that it aims to address "public health and security" of the population ahead of the federal legalization of cannabis next year.
Provincial legislation, she suggested, could "evolve" over time.
"We have to be flexible enough to adapt as we go along because we are not naive, we know that the black market will certainly react also to what we are doing," added Finance Minister Carlos Leitao.
The federal government has set July 1, 2018, as the target date for legalization. Quebec is still hoping Ottawa pushes back that target, even as they move to introduce their own rules.
Among the provinces, only Ontario and New Brunswick have tabled legislation. Alberta is expected to do so shortly.
Who will reap the rewards?
On Wednesday, Leitao questioned the federal government's plan to split tax revenues between Ottawa and the provinces and territories.
"We view that the taxation revenues should come almost entirely to the provinces because once the bill is in place or the bills are in place, the federal and the provincial, the costs are going to be incurred by the provinces, not by the federal government," he said.
"So why should the federal government have any additional revenues when they don't have when they have very few additional costs?"
Under the plan, Ottawa would add an excise tax of $1 per gram of marijuana or 10 per cent of the final retail price, whichever is higher.
The final price, including provincial and federal sales taxes, would vary by jurisdiction since the combined total is in some provinces is higher than in others.
Mail carriers ready to deliver
In Quebec's case, the sale and distribution of marijuana will be overseen by the SAQ, the province's publicly owned liquor agency.
Initially, at least, the province only intends to set up 20 stores across Quebec to sell marijuana on site, Radio-Canada reported Tuesday. The agency will also offer online sales, delivered by Canada Post.
Mike Palecek, head of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said mail carriers are ready for the extra work load.
"We already deliver most of the medicinal marijuana in this country and there are certain protocols and protections in place around that, so it's normal that the province would look for an option such as Canada Post to make sure everything is secure," Palecek said in an interview.
Canada Post already delivers alcohol ordered online through the SAQ, and it has been handling the delivery of medical marijuana since 2013, a spokesperson for the Crown corporation said.
"Any decisions regarding delivery or availability of legalised marijuana are up to the various government bodies building the consumer framework," Sylvie Lapointe said in a statement.