Jus­tice min­is­ters push for an­swers on sup­port for pot le­gal­iza­tion

The Daily Courier - - CANADA -

VAN­COU­VER — Canada’s jus­tice min­is­ters are ask­ing for clar­ity and sup­port as they scram­ble to or­ga­nize and po­lice an en­tirely new mar­i­juana in­dus­try in fewer than 10 months.

Bri­tish Columbia So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Mike Farn­worth said he hopes this week’s meet­ing be­tween fed­eral Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jody Wil­son-Ray­bould and her pro­vin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial coun­ter­parts will pro­vide more an­swers about how the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment in­tends to make good on its plans to le­gal­ize pot by next sum­mer.

“Ob­vi­ously, I think the July time frame is a chal­lenge,” he said. “But right now that’s the time­line, that’s the time frame that we’re work­ing to­wards.”

The jus­tice min­is­ters be­gan two days of meet­ings in Van­cou­ver on Thurs­day.

Be­sides pot, the agenda in­cludes dis­cus­sions around how the jus­tice sys­tem deals with peo­ple who don’t dis­close their HIV sta­tus to their sex­ual part­ners and the fall­out from a Supreme Court of Canada de­ci­sion that puts a time limit on how long it takes to pros­e­cute crim­i­nal charges.

Man­i­toba Jus­tice Min­is­ter Heather Ste­fan­son said in a state­ment that her gov­ern­ment wants more clar­ity on how the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment in­tends to sup­port prov­inces in im­ple­ment­ing The Cannabis Act.

“Our pri­mary con­cern re­gard­ing the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana is the health and safety of Man­i­to­bans,” she said. “The fed­eral gov­ern­ment must rec­og­nize that rush­ing into some­thing of this mag­ni­tude presents tremen­dous risks.”

On­tario Jus­tice Min­is­ter Yasir Naqvi de­scribed the dead­line as tight but added that his prov­ince is work­ing dili­gently to be ready by July 1, 2018. On­tario be­came the first prov­ince to make pub­lic its plans for le­gal­ized cannabis last week.

“The time­line is fast ap­proach­ing and we have not been wast­ing our time, fully rec­og­niz­ing that a lot of work has to be done,” Naqvi said.

Brian Pat­ter­son, head of the pub­lic safety group On­tario Safety League, said he is shocked by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to an un­re­al­is­tic dead­line that is po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated and will put Cana­di­ans at risk.

The group re­leased a po­si­tion paper ear­lier this month ti­tled Too Far, Too Fast, urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to slow down and con­sult more ex­ten­sively with po­lice forces, health agen­cies and pro­vin­cial govern­ments.

Pat­ter­son also crit­i­cized the ab­sence of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to back some of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tions, such as al­low­ing 18 year olds to smoke when health pro­fes­sion­als have said ex­po­sure to mar­i­juana can neg­a­tively im­pact de­vel­op­ing brains in peo­ple as old as 25.

“Be­fore you open the pool you bet­ter check the chlo­rine lev­els and know what’s go­ing on. And we’re just open­ing the pools be­cause it’s Canada Day,” Pat­ter­son said.

“Spit­balling in the dark seems to be the method be­ing used to stick to that date.”

The Cana­dian Press

Fed­eral Min­is­ter of Jus­tice Jody Wil­sonRay­bould speaks dur­ing a meet­ing of min­is­ters re­spon­si­ble for jus­tice and pub­lic safety Thurs­day in Van­cou­ver.

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