Top stories of 2018: Reflecting on the roll out of marijuana legalization in Quebec

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In 2018, the world watched as Canada became the first Western country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana – and all the challenges that came with it.

Today, a lack of supply at the city’s only downtown pot shop is leaving some customers with a bad taste about how legalization has been rolled out so far. 

While lineups outside the SQDC outlet on Saint-Catherine Street has decreased pretty dramatically between October and December, but one problem facing the only pot shop downtown remains: a lack of stock.

“It’s pretty empty at the moment,” said one customer leaving the shop. “I feel like you have to come at a specific time to get something.”

“Let’s say I go to the SAQ, right, and I’m looking for a bottle and the bottle is never there when I go there, it gets annoying. I’m not going to go anymore,” he added. 

Less than two weeks into legalization Quebec’s cannabis retailer cut its hours of operation because it didn’t have enough supply to meet the demand, and they’ve stayed that way ever since. 

“One big challenge has been supply, so everybody’s been hustling to meet their supply agreements with various provinces and to grow enough product,” explained Adam Greenblatt, founder of Sante Cannabis. 

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Legalizing recreational marijuana was a Liberal campaign promise, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising a “smooth operation of retail cannabis outlets.” 

But according to some, including those living in Ontario – where customers can only purchase cannabis products online – the roll out has been far from smooth.

Here in Quebec, you can buy weed at one of the 12 government-run locations. But Ontarians, for example, have gripes about quality, some saying their delivered weed was stale, moldy, or simply not what they ordered.

Still, it appears the CAQ has adopted the toughest stance against it in the county. The party tabled a bill setting the legal age to buy and consume cannabis at 21.

Despite warnings from Premier Francois Legault, medical professionals, and police, some people are smoking pot – and crossing borders to do it. 

Looking ahead to 2019, Greenblat says the supply issue will be resolved. 

“The legalization of cannabis really exposed the various bottlenecks and vulnerabilities in the supply chain, and those are being worked out as we speak,” he said.

Building owners have only two weeks left to add a "no cannabis" clause to their lease. The Quebec law regulating cannabis gives landlords until January 15 to send their tenants a notice of modification of the lease.

Tenants can only refuse the new clause for medical reasons - if tenants do not object within 30 days of receiving the notice, the lease will be amended.

The Quebec real estate owners corporation is already apprehensive of long processing times from the Regie du Logement, and that possible challenges to the ban may not be heard for several months.

Provincial law completely prohibits the cultivation of recreational cannabis, and the possession of more than 150 grams of dried cannabis per home. 

Smoking in seniors' residences and common areas of buildings containing more than two dwellings will remain illegal under provincial law.

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