Cannabis cultivation at home goes to the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada will review Quebec’s decision to ban the cultivation of cannabis plants at home and decide whether or not this prohibition is valid.

The highest court in the country announced Thursday that it would hear the case of Janick Murray-Hall, who had challenged this ban by the Quebec government, included in 2018 in its Cannabis Regulation Act.

Mr. Murray-Hall — who became known for his satirical news site Le Journal de Mourréal — brought this action on behalf of all persons in Quebec who can be prosecuted for being in possession of cannabis plants. in their living room or on their balcony.

When Ottawa legalized recreational cannabis use in October 2018, it allowed Canadian citizens to grow a maximum of four plants at home. Most Canadian provinces allow home cultivation — but not Quebec. Instead, the latter had a more restrictive law adopted than that of the federal government in this regard, and prohibited the cultivation of green plants and their pots at home.

Mr. Murray-Hall also denounced the confusion surrounding the situation: federal law allows it, but not Quebec law.

He had won his case in 2019 in the Superior Court: Judge Manon Lavoie had declared that the Quebec law encroached on the legislative powers of the federal government, which alone has the power to legislate in criminal matters.

It had therefore invalidated sections 5 and 10 of the Cannabis Regulation Act, while leaving the rest intact.

Quebec appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal, and emerged victorious. The Quebec government had argued that while the federal government has jurisdiction in criminal matters, Quebec has that of health, which allows it to also mark cannabis. His law was passed to achieve its goal of protecting the health and safety of the population, especially young people, he added.

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For the Court of Appeal, the federal law “did not limit the power of the National Assembly to prohibit the private cultivation of cannabis within the framework of the implementation of means specific to achieving its objectives”, which are moreover “in harmony” with those covered by federal legislation.

Dissatisfied with this result, Mr. Murray-Hall therefore requested the intervention of the Supreme Court, which has just granted his request. The date for the hearing of this case has not yet been determined.

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