Feds hands off on pro­vin­cial pot

Prov­inces pre­pare to roll out mar­i­juana reg­u­la­tions

Northern News (Kirkland Lake) - - NATIONAL NEWS - LEE BERTHIAUME

OT­TAWA — The fed­eral govern­ment ap­pears ready to take a hands-off ap­proach as prov­inces be­gin rolling out how they plan to po­lice the sale and use of mar­i­juana once it be­comes le­gal.

On­tario last week be­came the first prov­ince to un­veil its plans for han­dling le­gal­ized pot by an­nounc­ing that it would closely mimic the prov­ince’s cur­rent sys­tem for liquor.

Mar­i­juana will be sold at 150 ded­i­cated stores run by the Liquor Con­trol Board of On­tario, it will only be sold by those aged 19 or over, and con­sump­tion will only be al­lowed in pri­vate res­i­dences.

The pro­posal has sparked anger and concern from some pot ac­tivists and as­pir­ing re­tail­ers, who have warned that On­tario’s pro­posed model will limit sup­plies and do lit­tle to elim­i­nate the black mar­ket.

Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale re­fused to weigh in Sun­day on On­tario’s pro­posed plan, and in­di­cated that the fed­eral govern­ment would stay out of how prov­inces ad­dress mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion.

“Each prov­ince has the flex­i­bil­ity to de­sign it the way they think most ap­pro­pri­ate. On­tario has laid out their pro­posal. That’s within their ju­ris­dic­tion to do,” he said.

“Other prov­inces, I would imag­ine now, will come for­ward with their rec­om­men­da­tions. They may fol­low the On­tario model. They may choose a dif­fer­ent ap­proach.”

Goodale, who spoke to re­porters fol­low­ing a cer­e­mony to hon­our fallen fire­fight­ers in Ot­tawa, reaf­firmed that the pur­pose of le­gal­iza­tion is to keep pot away from mi­nors and or­ga­nized crime.

And he ex­pressed con­fi­dence that what­ever model in­di­vid­ual prov­inces de­cide to adopt, those aims will be met.

“Each prov­ince will adopt dif­fer­ent tools as they see fit for their ju­ris­dic­tion,” Goodale said.

“But there is no di­lut­ing of the goal: protect our kids and stop the flow to crime. And On­tario, I’m sure, will be de­sign­ing that they be­lieve will ac­com­plish that ob­jec­tive ef­fec­tively.”

The Trudeau govern­ment is mov­ing to le­gal­ize recre­ational mar­i­juana by next July, and ear­marked $247 mil­lion over five years on Fri­day to sup­port polic­ing and border ef­forts as­so­ci­ated with that plan.

Goodale said the money is part of the Liberals’ prom­ise to en­sure prov­inces, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and law-en­force­ment agen­cies have the tools and re­sources to en­force the new laws gov­ern­ing le­gal­ized pot.

“Law en­force­ment will need the tools to do that job, so we put money on the ta­ble as promised to as­sist with train­ing and to as­sist with the ac­qui­si­tion of the right kind of tech­ni­cal equip­ment,” he said.

The promised new fund­ing in­cludes $161 mil­lion to train front­line of­fi­cers in how to rec­og­nize the signs and symp­toms of drug-im­paired driv­ing, pro­vide ac­cess to drug-screen­ing de­vices and ed­u­cate the pub­lic.

Some of that money will also be used to de­velop pol­icy, bol­ster re­search and raise aware­ness about the dan­gers of drugim­paired driv­ing.

The re­main­ing $113 mil­lion will go to Pub­lic Safety, the RCMP and the Canada Border Ser­vices Agency to en­sure or­ga­nized crime does not in­fil­trate the le­gal­ized sys­tem and to keep pot from cross­ing borders.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

A man lights a mar­i­juana joint as he par­tic­i­pates in the 4/20 protest on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa, April 20, 2015. The fed­eral govern­ment ap­pears ready to take a hands-off ap­proach as prov­inces be­gin rolling out how they plan to po­lice the sale and use of mar­i­juana once it be­comes le­gal.

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