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Supreme Court Case Over Alcohol May Determine Future of Pot Sales in Canada

October 13, 2017

 

A case headed to the Supreme Court of Canada that involves domestic liquor distribution may affect the way pot will be sold for years to come.

 

In Canada, there are significant restrictions on alcohol transport over provincial borders. These regulations have not been disputed for 95 years and are in place to respect variances in government-controlled retail models for alcohol in different provinces.

 

The rules in question were recently challenged in a New Brunswick provincial court through a resident named Gerard Comeau, who purchased 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor in Quebec and then drove home to his province. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police stopped Comeau, confiscated his alcohol, and gave him a $292.50 fine.

 

Comeau’s lawyer argued that by doing this, law enforcement violated section 121 of Canada’s Constitution Act, which allows for a spirit of free trade between the provinces — and the judge agreed.

 

The New Brunswick government filed an appeal and now the case is headed to the highest court in Canada.

 

What does an alcohol ruling have to do with cannabis?

 

The Supreme Court case allows for individuals or companies that may be affected by the decision an opportunity to be heard. Yesterday, lawyers related to dispensaries that include the Emery-founded Cannabis Culture got word that they will be allowed to speak on how this decision will affect the upcoming legal marijuana industry.

 

“The dates are set for, I think, December 4th and 5th, but that was before they accepted any intervener applications,” said Jodie Emery in an interview with Marijuana.com. “We will be one of a number of different interest groups who have a chance to speak to this issue.”

 

Emery went on to add that although adult-use marijuana sales will be federally controlled, the individual provinces are in charge of sales and distribution. It’s safe to assume that when the provincial regulations have been solidified, similar rules on provincial borders will be in place for pot.

 

Restrictions on provincial cross-border weed shopping appear inevitable given the announcement of government-controlled retail models for cannabis in Ontario, New Brunswick and potentially Quebec.

 

“We have decided to intervene to argue that this decision over interprovincial beer commerce has an impact on the emerging industry of cannabis. We have these provinces coming forward with very restrictive monopoly models of distribution and if the court successfully agrees with Comeau, then the entire marijuana industry will be impacted,” said Emery.

 

Marijuana.com was able to speak briefly with Jack Lloyd, one of the Emery’s lawyers who played an integral role in getting the intervention on behalf of the cannabis industry in Canada.

 

“This is a great moment for Cannabis Culture and cannabis businesses in Canada,” said Lloyd. “They have the opportunity to have their voices heard in our highest court, in a case that is of the utmost importance. The same set of circumstances that gave rise to Mr. Comeau’s problems are happening now with these Liberal Party backroom deals. It’s important that section 121 of the Constitution Act be reinterpreted in light of the new world that we live in.”

 

The case is scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada this December.

 

This article was originally published on Marijuana.com

 

About Jon Hiltz: Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.

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