CANNABIS CULTURE – The case centers around Gerard Comeau, a retired New Brunswick power linesman who was fined CAD 292.50 after being stopped for transporting multiple cases of beer and liquor back home from Quebec. The fine stems from New Brunswick’s liquor acts that limit a person to transport 12 pints of beer or a bottle of wine or liquor.
The hearing is scheduled for December 5th.
Cannabis Culture intends to advocate for movement between provinces. In so doing, eliminating import and export tariffs from the process. Cannabis Culture and the other 28 participants seek for a judicial reinterpretation of section 121 of the Constitution Act of 1867 (the interprovincial trade provision).
In a tweet, Barrister and cannabis policy advocate for Cannabis Culture, Kirk Tousaw, voiced his pleasure with the outcome last month.
Recent precedent gives Cannabis Culture the potential to build off of the 2016 ruling that deemed Section 121 unconstitutional and acquitted Comeau. In the decision, Judge Ronald LeBlanc cited that, “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.”
The determination cited the section itself that admitted free provincial transports. Cannabis Culture’s intervention further seeks to prove that open access across Canada will prove itself beneficial to the Canadian cannabis marketplace.
As other legalization efforts across the world have shown, markets tend to face hurdles upon rollout. Supply and demand issues, price increases and other troubling instances tend to happen. If a singular entity such as Ontario’s distribution model isn’t flawless, severe outcomes could push users back to the black market.
Cannabis Culture owner Jodie Emery stated that “If a constitutional remedy were found to be available [through the Comeau case]in relation to policies that discriminate against interprovincial trade, Cannabis Culture or another affected party could bring an action against the province of Ontario in relation to its proposed monopoly.”
With legalization fast approaching, provincial monopolies could severely hinder Canada’s progressive new measures. If the market suffers initial setbacks, it can recover. However, with a stranglehold on the market, provinces could limit the potential of any market recovery. Cannabis Culture’s intervention hopes to push the growing reassessment of Section 121 further. All sides of the argument will win out if Canadians are able to procure their cannabis wherever they want within the nation.
The Gerard Comeau Case
Gerard Comeau’s case amounts to a relatively small sum that could impact Canada immensely. In short, Comeau brought what is New Brunswick law deems an excessive amount of beer and liquor across provincial lines. Yet, the implications extend to Canadian transport rights across a multitude of industries.
The previously mentioned recent findings show that change appears imminent. However, others do not agree with Cannabis Culture and many others that believe the law currently follows a misinterpretation of the act. Gerard Comeau’s case could determine which side emerges victorious.
The case hopes to reverse a 1921 ruling that imposed the current method. For just short of 100 years, this interpretation has made shipping of goods much higher for citizens. Comeau’s lawyer opposes the case against his client as an impermissible trade barrier. He filed in his case to the Supreme Court that neither the province nor federal government can prevent a Canadian’s’ right to move personal products across the country.
The defense, however, aims to reinstate Comeau’s guilty verdict. Failing to do so, they claim, would “propose an end to Canadian federalism as it was originally conceived” by the Supreme Court. The defense, if successful, would uphold monopolies in both cannabis and liquor markets. If successful, they would, however, save the country an estimated $50 to $130 billion it stands to lose in the acquittal is upheld.
The Comeau case is compelling for its multiple tiers. Each tier serves as potentially industry defining verdict. Experts have weighed in on both sides of the aisle. Financial advocates have expressed concerns from the massive hit to the nation’s GDP to the status of the country going forward. Some have claimed that a reversal of Comeau’s acquittal would, in a way, move Canada further apart. Instead of open inter-province trade like the United States, it could become a nation of provinces. In which, each would have a vice grip over the market with little option other than the black market.
Roles of the Interveners
Cannabis Culture joins 11 other interveners in the Supreme Court case. Cannabis Culture joins other Canadian businesses, groups and associations. The other participants included as interveners are:
- Liquidity Wines Ltd., Painted Rock Estate Winery Ltd., 50th Parallel Estate Limited Partnership, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery Ltd., and Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery Limited Partnership.
- Artisan Ales Consulting Inc.
- Canadian Vintners Association
- Association of Canadian Distillers, operating as Spirits Canada
- Canada’s National Brewers, advocates for Canada’s largest and oldest brewers, Molson and Labatt
- Alberta Small Brewers Association
- Consumers Council of Canada
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Federation of Independent Business
- The Dairy Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Turkey Farmers of Canada, and the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers
- Federal Express Canada
- Montreal Economic Institute
The list demonstrates the broad impact the ruling will have on Canadian business sectors. As such, the Supreme Court granted the status to all 12 applicants.
Each intervener will have the ability to submit their written argument by November 21st. They are also granted the ability to present a five minute or less statement at the hearing. Their roles are restricted in both cases to only stating their case for tariff-free provincial movement. They will not be allowed to introduce new evidence or take up additional causes during the proceedings.
Cannabis Culture’s viewpoint aligns with the other industries in that the current structure is excessively restrictive. Provincial tariffs create barriers that the 12 Canadian represented sectors are hampered by. If the law does favor the provinces, the interveners could see each province enact laws that further restrict their incomes while padding GDP.
The Gerard Comeau verdict will profoundly affect Canadian industry one way or another. For Cannabis Culture and the other interveners, it’s about opening interstate boundaries for better access for all Canadians at a lower cost. In opposition stands claims of political revisionism and significant financial ramifications for Canada.
After 96 years of the status quo, the future of Canada’s trade is on the line. Will it represent freer borders like its neighbor to the south? Or, will it move forward as a series of provinces and less a country when it comes to imports and exports? With arguments due in less than a month, and the case soon behind, the next month could prove itself historic for many Canadian industries. Cannabis Culture is proud to be on the front lines of the change.