On November 14th, the SSMU Legislative Council passed a motion asserting the SSMU’s opposition to Bill 2, An Act to tighten the regulation of cannabis, which was passed by the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) majority in the National Assembly of Quebec.
Bill 2 will raise the legal age for cannabis consumption from 18 to 21 years old, effective January 1st, 2020. It will also prohibit the purchase and possession of cannabis in areas accessible to minors, such as educational facilities and childcare spaces. This bill fully overlooks the potential negative effects outlined by l’Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ). Such effects include the circulation of cannabis from illegal sources lacking in adequate quality control as well as the criminalization of young adults – consequences that have targeted, and would continue to target, marginalized communities and people of colour.
In the McGill context, this bill prohibits the possession of cannabis on the grounds or facilities of childcare centres – such as the SSMU Daycare and Nursery – and the consumption of cannabis on University property or while operating a vehicle or equipment owned or leased by the University. For students on campus, certain exceptions can be made for the use of cannabis for medical and research purposes. Approvals for these exceptions are managed by the McGill administration via the Office of the Dean of Students.
The SSMU stands firmly opposed to Bill 2 and urges lawmakers to take into consideration the public health of their constituents as well as the implications of this policy for marginalised groups, who are often legally and publicly held to a different standard when it comes to selling and consuming cannabis. The SSMU further wishes to reiterate its support of harm reduction approaches in law enforcement.
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