Min­is­ter prom­ises pot plan ‘in the next cou­ple of weeks’

Edmonton Journal - - CITY -

CAL­GARY Jus­tice Min­is­ter Kath­leen Gan­ley says she’s not ex­pect­ing “com­plete con­sen­sus” as Al­berta pre­pares to re­lease its plan for le­gal cannabis within weeks.

As the fed­eral Lib­eral gov­ern­ment pre­pares to le­gal­ize the recre­ational use of marijuana on July 1, 2018, it falls to the prov­inces to deal with is­sues such as the min­i­mum age for con­sump­tion and how pot will be distributed and sold.

In writ­ten sub­mis­sions to its cannabis sec­re­tar­iat, Al­berta’s NDP gov­ern­ment has heard widerang­ing op­tions for how re­tail sales of marijuana should be han­dled, in­clud­ing al­low­ing new stand­alone spe­cial­ized stores, uti­liz­ing ex­ist­ing pri­vate liquor stores or gov­ern­ment-con­trolled sales.

At a meet­ing of Canada’s jus­tice and pub­lic safety min­is­ters on Fri­day in Van­cou­ver, Gan­ley avoided a ques­tion on whether the prov­ince was con­sid­er­ing the creation of a Crown cor­po­ra­tion or gov­ern­ment-run stores for cannabis sales.

With the ini­tial phase of gov­ern­ment con­sul­ta­tions over, the prov­ince will soon re­lease its plan for re­view and pub­lic feed­back, she said.

“This is not an area in which you can reach com­plete con­sen­sus. There is al­ways go­ing to be di­ver­gent views ... but we should have in the next cou­ple of weeks a frame­work com­ing out for Al­ber­tans to com­ment on,” said Gan­ley.

On­tario re­cently an­nounced that le­gal cannabis would be sold in that prov­ince through a net­work of new stores op­er­ated by the gov­ern­ment’s Liquor Con­trol Board of On­tario.

In its writ­ten sub­mis­sion to the prov­ince, Al­berta Health Ser­vices said the best model for le­gal marijuana would be “a gov­ern­ment con­trolled sys­tem of dis­tri­bu­tion and re­tail.”

The pro­vin­cial health au­thor­ity also sug­gested Al­berta con­sider set­ting 21 as the min­i­mum le­gal age for marijuana con­sump­tion and po­ten­tially raise the cur­rent le­gal age for drink­ing al­co­hol and smok­ing — 18 — to match.

Ottawa has set 18 as the le­gal min­i­mum age for marijuana na­tion­ally but prov­inces can set their own age lim­its, with On­tario an­nounc­ing 19 as its cut-off.

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