Pot shots

Prov­inces see ef­forts, costs of end­ing pot pro­hi­bi­tion through dif­fer­ent lenses

Cape Breton Post - - Canada - BY ANDY BLATCHFORD THE CANA­DIAN PRESS OT­TAWA

Prov­inces have been protest­ing the large vol­ume of work and heavy costs they say the Trudeau govern­ment has piled on them in its rush to le­gal­ize recre­ational cannabis across Canada by next year.

So far, how­ever, the small prov­ince of New Brunswick has been tak­ing the high road.

Un­like other mem­bers of the fed­er­a­tion, New Brunswick isn’t press­ing for fed­eral com­pen­sa­tion to cover the bills of pot le­gal­iza­tion, nor is it in a par­tic­u­lar scram­ble to draw up the plans, the prov­ince’s health min­is­ter said.

Prov­inces have been busy since the fed­eral govern­ment tabled leg­is­la­tion last month to le­gal­ize and reg­u­late recre­ational mar­i­juana use, with a pri­mary aim of keep­ing weed out of the hands of youth and crim­i­nals. Ot­tawa hopes to make it hap­pen by July 2018.

“We didn’t just wait for the fed­eral leg­is­la­tion and then start — we started do­ing our home­work and our due dili­gence well be­fore, an­tic­i­pat­ing what the fed­eral leg­is­la­tion was go­ing to look like,’’ New Brunswick Health Min­is­ter Victor Boudreau said in an in­ter­view. “There’s no ques­tion if the fed­eral govern­ment is will­ing to help with some of the up-front costs — I’m sure we wouldn’t say no to that. But I’m not nec­es­sar­ily say­ing that would be nec­es­sary just yet, ei­ther.”

New Brunswick’s en­thu­si­asm is con­nected to the fact the prov­ince views pot le­gal­iza­tion as a fu­ture driver for its strug­gling econ­omy.

Premier Brian Gal­lant has been try­ing to po­si­tion New Brunswick to en­sure it gets a big per­cent­age of Canada’s even­tual reg­u­lated-pot in­dus­try, which he pre­dicts will gen­er­ate “sig­nif­i­cant’’ growth.

Some prov­inces, how­ever, aren’t ex­pect­ing mean­ing­ful wind­falls — if any at all — once startup costs are fac­tored in. They’ve also ex­pressed con­cern about what they see as a hur­ried course set by Ot­tawa to­ward le­gal­iza­tion.

Que­bec Pub­lic Health Min­is­ter Lu­cie Charlebois warns that meet­ing the fed­eral time­line will be a chal­lenge as prov­inces, ter­ri­to­ries and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties race to de­velop com­plex pot-re­lated rules, pro­grams and strate­gies within their own ju­ris­dic­tions.

Set­ting guide­lines re­lated to the min­i­mum le­gal age, re­tail sales, pub­lic health, ed­u­ca­tion and se­cu­rity are among the wide range of needs.

Charlebois said in an in­ter­view that 13 dif­fer­ent de­part­ments in her govern­ment have been hus­tling to pre­pare for the pot le­gal­iza­tion.

“We don’t have so much time, so we’ve got to go fast,” said Charlebois, who added that she sup­ports the prin­ci­ple of mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion but would have liked Ot­tawa to pro­vide a more-rig­or­ous reg­u­la­tory frame­work.

CP PHOTO

Grow­ing flow­ers of cannabis in­tended for the med­i­cal mar­i­juana mar­ket are shown at Or­ganiGram in Monc­ton, N.B. While New Brunswick views pot le­gal­iza­tion as a fu­ture driver for its strug­gling econ­omy, some prov­inces aren’t ex­pect­ing mean­ing­ful wind­falls — if any at all — once startup costs are fac­tored in. They’ve also ex­pressed con­cern about what they see as a hur­ried course set by Ot­tawa to­ward le­gal­iza­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.