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