Legalization of cannabis

Recreational use of cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018. Under federal law, provincial governments and territories are responsible for:

  • Prevention;
  • Promotion of health;
  • Public safety, including road safety;
  • Workplace policies;
  • Distribution, sale and enforcement of legislation;
  • Licencing;
  • Ensuring that sale and distribution comply with minimal federal conditions.

New provincial legislation must ensure the safety of minors, protect public health, curb crime and reduce the number of cannabis-related cases in the judicial system.

For more information about the Cannabis Regulation Act in Quebec, click here.

First Nations

For First Nations, this change is worrisome. Data from the Quebec First Nations Regional Health Survey show that cannabis use in First Nations communities is almost twice higher than in Quebec and Canada.

In order to help First Nations communities prepare for legalization, the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) has held several events over the last year to inform stakeholders of cannabis-related issues.

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) held a reflection day on September 19, 2017, during which experts shared their expertise with participants.

Two briefs were jointly submitted by the AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC to the National Assembly of Québec. These address various issues, including prevention, education and impacts on health, public safety, economic development and fiscal policy, and conclude with a list of recommendations.

A regional meeting on cannabis was held on May 14, 2018. Presentations addressed harm reduction, the effect of cannabis on brain development in youth, the medical use of cannabis, the cannabis market and other subjects. Furthermore, a consultation session was held in partnership with the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation. This organization will guide the drafting of a regional report to be presented to the federal government.

Finally, the FNQLHSSC was mandated by the AFNQL to lead a regional working group on the legalization of cannabis. Made up of stakeholders from the health, social services, education, public safety and economic development sectors, it is tasked with “developing cannabis-related strategies that are specific to the First Nations and mainly focused on harm reduction and prevention (tools, awareness campaign, training, etc.) to support First Nations communities and organizations in Quebec and to prepare them for future federal, provincial and community legislation on the legalization of cannabis. The working group has developed, among other tools, a resource guide to help communities prepare for the arrival of legal recreational cannabis.

Resource guide

This guide is intended to provide support to various community activity sectors to inform and equip them to face the realities brought on by the new law.

It is divided by target group, within which resources are broken down by category (information, training, available resources and services, and tools). Each resource has a short description to better orient searches.

As it is a tool in progress, it will be updated as new resources become available. If you have suggestions of additions to the guide, please email them to Natasha Hervieux, FNQLHSSC Wellness and addiction prevention Advisor at


Useful links

  • Brief - january 2018
  • Brief - september 2017
  • Fact sheet - Cannabis use among First Nations
  • First Nations day of reflection, September 19, 2017
  • First Nations and Inuit consultation day with Quebec, September 29
  • AFNQL brief
  • AFN Bulletin – October 2017  
  • AFN Resolution no
  • Resolution
  • Don't drive high