Montreal, Quebec has set aside $1.3 million in funding to combat the local illicit cannabis market, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Montreal’s new spending will fund a 26-officer police squad with the mandate to control and eliminate the cannabis illicit market. Two members of the squad will be civilians.
The province of Quebec is already known for having some of the most restrictive cannabis laws in Canada.
Recently, officials there launched an effort to raise the minimum age for cannabis consumption to 21 and ban public consumption; in other provinces, public consumption is often legal and the age for purchase is 18 or 19. Home cultivation is also illegal in Quebec, meaning that the province and it’s most populous city, Montreal, are likely to have the most tightly controlled cannabis markets in Canada.
A similar task force to fight the illicit tobacco market sparked a decline in contraband tobacco sales from 30% to 12% over the course of nine years.
There has been push back from around Canada, including from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, over Quebec‘s cannabis laws. Many believe that the province’s harsh stance on cannabis will result in a thriving black market instead of a clean transition to a legal cannabis framework, as the legislation was intended.