Prov­inces protest over pot scram­ble

New Brunswick wel­comes legalization, but oth­ers com­plain about ‘heavy lift­ing’ re­quired

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - ANDY BLATCHFORD

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 next year.

So far, how­ever, 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.

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

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 13 de­part­ments in her govern­ment have been hus­tling to pre­pare for legalization.

She also has doubts that tax rev­enue from cannabis will be enough to cover costs of pre­par­ing for ev­ery­thing that will come with reg­u­la­tion. Taxes on pot are ex­pected to stay low to en­sure the reg­u­lated mar­ket el­bows out il­le­gal deal­ers.

Que­bec isn’t alone in ques­tion­ing Ot­tawa’s ap­proach.

Shortly af­ter the fed­eral leg­is­la­tion was tabled, Al­berta Pre­mier Rachel Not­ley warned the prov­inces would be left with a lot of “heavy lift­ing” and that there would be con­sid­er­able costs as­so­ci­ated with ad­min­is­ter­ing le­gal­ized pot.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.