A police captain in northern Quebec says the provincial government’s limits on payment options for online cannabis orders are pushing people to the illicit market.
Patrice Abel, a captain with the Service de Police du Nunavik, a region that makes up the northern third of Quebec, tells Nunatsiaq News that he estimates that more than 80% of the residents in the region still purchase their cannabis from the illicit market.
This is juxtaposed with new figures from Stats Canada showing nearly three-quarters of consumers in Canada are purchasing products from the legal market.
One of the reasons so many in Nunavik are still buying cannabis from the illicit market, says Abel, is a lack of legal retail stores and the requirement to use a credit card when purchasing from the SDQC.ca, Quebec’s legal online cannabis portal.
Illicit online stores, meanwhile, offer other payment options such as electronic money transfer services like PayPal.
Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) is the only retail store in Quebec allowed to sell cannabis, with 98 locations across the lower third of the province.
The Kativik Regional Government is the representative regional authority for most of the Nunavik region of Quebec and has expressed concern about cannabis legalization and its potential impacts on the community in the past.
About 60 percent of the region’s 14,000 inhabitants, 90% of whom are Inuit, are under the age of 25. According to a report in 2017, Nunavik has the highest rate of use of cannabis in Québec.
Nunavik has 14 communities that are only connected by air, and several of them are “dry” communities.
A study was launched in 2021 to better understand cannabis use in Canada’s territories, as well as areas like Nunavik.
A new three-year study to determine how cannabis is used in Canada’s territories has been launched by a group of university researchers and health experts, with funding from Health Canada.
A study in 2015 found that cannabis consumers in Nunavik had lower body mass index, lower amounts of fat on their bodies, and two times lower risk of being obese.
In Quebec, the minimum legal age to possess or purchase cannabis is 21 years.
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