The view from Quebec

Lucien Bouchard, Quebecs pot-hating permier.  Photo: Jacques Boissinot/CanapressLucien Bouchard, Quebecs pot-hating permier. Photo: Jacques Boissinot/CanapressPeaceful pot growers in Quebec are paying the price of the ongoing war between the Hell’s Angels and the Rock Machine. Besides the usual federal, provincial and municipal police forces, Quebec now has two specially formed police squads, Carcajou and Grico.
In the past five years marijuana growers have already faced a dramatic increase in seizures and arrests. The number of marijuana plants stolen by police in Quebec City alone jumped from 2600 in 1993 to 10,700 in 1996. Although the figures for 1997 have not yet been released, Mr. Ouellet of the S?ret? du Qu?bec told me that they had almost beaten the 1996 total in the first four months of 1997.

“It’s all the result of new tactics,” added Ouellet, referring to a new device developed by Agrimage, which detects marijuana’s “light reflection signature” from airplane or helicopter. There’s even rumours that they’re putting Agrimage’s detector onto the MaxView pilot guidance satellite.

Meanwhile, Hydro-Quebec has apparently installed new computer software, which is supposed to monitor how much electricity each customer consumes, and at which hour of the day.

Against abuse, for Harm Reduction

For a decade, Quebec’s Permanent Committee Against Drug Abuse (CPLT) has moved towards a harm reduction policy. Last year, after a big public consultation, they gave their final report to Quebec’s Minister of Health, Jean Rochon. In their report, they recommended the immediate decriminalization of cannabis.

The CPLT then released a whole series of reports and studies in 1997, dealing with alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, along with clear support for harm reduction policies. But now that they’re more active than ever, the Bouchard administration wants to shut them down.

Terrible Tories

The increased pressure on pot-people has all come since Lucien Bouchard became Quebec’s Premier. These backward flips now mean that having grow equipment proves you’re related to Biker Gangs, and that hydroponic growing gets you 30 months in jail.

Curiously, what is left of the Mulrouney government has all come to Quebec. Bouchard is Premier and Charest will lead the Liberals against him in the next election. Quebecois now have the choice between two former federal Conservatives; the government which introduced the original version of Bill C-7.

Brian Mulroney’s wife, Mila, is seen everywhere in the province these days. Could it be the beginning of a new Reagan-Bush-Mulroney reign? Except this time, the prosecutor speaks French.Lucien Bouchard, Quebecs pot-hating permier. Photo: Jacques Boissinot/Canapress

Alain No?l is the editor of Imagine, a Quebec newsletter about cannabis issues. He can be reached by email at: [email protected]; website: