Federal Liberals pushing for legalization by July 1, 2018
Posted: Nov 17, 2017
When the federal government announced it would be legalizing marijuana, it left it up to the provinces to licence the product and oversee its distribution and sale. This has prompted provinces and territories to come up with their own plans to sell pot before July 1, 2018, when marijuana is scheduled to be legalized under federal legislation.
Here’s a look at which provinces have laid out their plans and which are still working out the kinks.
British Columbia hasn’t unveiled its plan, but NDP Premier John Horgan has indicated he’s looking into a “mixed model” in which both private and government-run stores would sell marijuana.
Horgan has also suggested that current illegal pot retailers already operating in the province may play a part, though it’s not yet clear if that will happen or how it might work if it does.
In Alberta, a bill has been introduced that would make the government responsible for any online retail marijuana sales. But the private sector isn’t being shut out — retail locations would be operated by private companies.
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would be responsible for oversight of private retail, and details on licensing will be available early next year, the province said.
The bill would set the minimum age for purchase and use at 18, the same as the province’s legal drinking age. It would also ban the sale of cannabis alongside alcohol, pharmaceuticals or tobacco.
People who want to consume pot will face some limits in Alberta — the new legislation outlaws use in places ranging from schools and daycares to hospitals, CBC’s Michelle Bellefontaine reported on Thursday as Rachel Notley’s government outlined its plan.
Premier Brad Wall’s government hasn’t rolled out its plan, saying it’s still reviewing its options and gathering feedback from its online public consultations.
The delay in the release of a plan has irked the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), which has complained that municipalities are unable to prepare.
In Manitoba, the province has said it will pursue a “hybrid model” for selling marijuana. The Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA) will regulate the purchase, storage, distribution and retail of cannabis while the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MBLL) will secure and track supply of cannabis sold in the province.
But as in Alberta, the private sector will be responsible for selling the product.
Premier Brian Pallister, who has previously urged federal lawmakers to slow down the legalization process, recently said he doesn’t know yet how many stores will be allowed, CBC’s Kelly Malone reported. He also suggested that private retailers may be able to sell pot online, but there’s been no real detail on that front at yet.
Another unknown in Manitoba is what the legal age to buy pot will be.
As the CBC’s Mike Crawley reported, the Ontario government plans to open stand-alone stores, all run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). But people shopping at the stores won’t be able to browse the aisles and grab what they want, the province says. Instead, there will be a behind-the-counter setup similar to what’s seen now when buying cigarettes.
The initial rollout includes 80 stores, but the province says online shopping will cover the province.
As it is for alcohol purchases, the minimum age to purchase and possess recreational cannabis in Ontario would be 19. Buyers in Ontario will also face limits on where they use marijuana, with a ban on use in public places.
Under Quebec’s proposed legislation, buyers will need to be at least 18 years old (like several other provinces, this age mirrors the legal age for buying alcohol).
Among other things, the legislation would bar people from growing cannabis for personal use at home and would limit smoking to the same places where people can currently light up a cigarette.
CBC’s Kalina Laframboise reported that under the proposed plan, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC) will buy pot from a producer and deal with transportation and storage of the product.
There will be 15 stores scattered around the province, and online sales will also be on offer.
The province’s public health minister seems to expect some tinkering as the legalization process unfolds.
“It’s not the end, it’s the only the beginning,” said Lucie Charlebois. “It’s certain that we will have to adapt.”
New Brunswick has laid out how it intends to proceed, and CBC’s Jacques Poitras reports that users can expect limits.
Under the province’s proposal, there will be no smoking in public places and there will be a limit on how many grams a person can carry, Poitras reported last week when the province presented its plan.
At home, people can store however much they like, but they have to keep it in either a locked-up room or a locked container.
Up to 20 government-run stores will be established with strict policies in place: they will be located at least 300 metres away from schools, they will only display products under glass, and customers will need to show identification to prove they are of legal age before they can even get in.
But what the legal age will be isn’t clear. There’s also no word on what the stores will be called or what the price will be, but we do not that online sales will be allowed.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The province has said it will be revealing its plan in the next few weeks. An online survey with around 2,600 respondents found that 53 per cent preferred 19 years old as minimum age to purchase and consume.
The survey also found that 73 per cent supported pot-specific dispensaries. There was more mixed responses when it came to online or mail orders, and selling drugs in pharmacies or at the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, the CBC’s Geoff Bartlett reported.
The government has said that it hoping to unveil its marijuana plan by the end of 2017. The premier has suggested he’d like to see a plan that’s in step with the rules in nearby provinces.
The P.E.I. government also released a public and stakeholder survey regarding the issue of marijuana. It expects to present draft legislation on the issue in the spring.
The Yukon government continues to develop its plan and may look to the results its own online survey to help guide its policies.
How exactly things will unfold isn’t clear, but Health Minister Pauline Frost said in a news release last week that people living in the territory favour a “public health approach” to legal cannabis.
According to the survey, about 45 per cent of respondents said 19 should be the minimum age to buy pot, which matches the minimum age in Yukon for buying alcohol.
The government in the Northwest Territories has also has been holding public consultations and will be looking at the results of its own online survey.
The public feedback included things like a minimum age of 19 and a call for rules restricting smoking pot in public, particularly around kids.
According to the government, respondents were divided on whether communities should be allowed to put local limits in place.
The Nunavut government has not yet unveiled its plan or released the results of its survey regarding pot legalization.