Canadian supreme court to hear Quebec cannabis challenge

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The Supreme Court of Canada is slated to hear a challenge Thursday morning to Quebec’s ban on the possession and cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use.

The hearing is being held exceptionally in Quebec City.

Janick Murray Hall, known for his parody website, “Le Journal de Mourréal,” believes the Quebec government does not have the power to impose such a ban under two sections of its Cannabis Act.

In this case against the Attorney General of Quebec, he argued on behalf of himself and anyone else who could be prosecuted for possessing a cannabis plant, saying these sections infringe on the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction in criminal matters.

The federal law that legalized cannabis in 2018 allows for the possession of up to four plants in the home; Murray Hall says he believes this legislation should take precedence.

The Quebec Superior Court ruled in his favour, declaring the challenged sections of the law constitutionally invalid.

However, the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the decision and Murray Hall turned to the Supreme Court of Canada.

When the Supreme Court announced that it had agreed to hear the case, the office of Quebec’s Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, declined to comment “in light of the ongoing judicial process.”

“That said, Quebec will always defend its jurisdiction. The law in question aims to protect the health and safety of the population, especially young people,” the minister’s press secretary, Élisabeth Gosselin, said.

In addition to hearing from Murray Hall’s lawyers and representatives of the Quebec Attorney General, the nine Supreme Court justices will listen to many other parties, including attorneys general from other provinces and the Canadian Cancer Society.

The Supreme Court of Canada is holding hearings outside Ottawa for the second time in its history in an effort to be more open and accessible and help the public become more aware of its role.

“After all, it’s hard to trust something you don’t understand,” Chief Justice Richard Wagner said Wednesday before a first hearing at the Quebec City courthouse.

During their week in the Quebec capital, the judges met with high school students and members of the general public.

Their visit is scheduled to conclude Friday with a roundtable discussion with law students at Université Laval.

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