Pubdate: Thu, 13 Apr 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Daniel Leblanc
Page: A6


Ottawa will have to launch a series of negotiations as soon as it
tables its long-awaited bill to legalize marijuana on Thursday,
needing to strike deals with the Senate, the provinces and the U.S.
government in its bid to lift the 94-year-old prohibition on the drug.

For starters, the Liberals will need to adopt a raft of legislative
changes in the House of Commons, where they have a solid majority, but
also through an independent Senate that is increasingly asserting its
desire to study and amend government bills.

The legislation that is scheduled to be tabled shortly after noon on
Thursday is being shepherded by the departments of Health, Justice and
Public Safety. The three federal agencies are in charge of creating a
system in which marijuana is grown by federally licensed producers and
sold across Canada in stores that are overseen by the provinces. The
legislation will also severely punish whoever sells cannabis to people
under the legal age or outside of the legalized regime.

Still, the proposed legislation is expected to leave a number of
unanswered questions, as the government will be adopting regulations
at a later date to provide its full plan to deal with issues such as
cracking down on drug-impaired drivers.

Conservative Senator Claude Carignan, who has pushed for a
roadside-testing system to deal with an expected increase of
drug-impaired drivers, said there is no guarantee the legislation will
be adopted before the government's self-imposed deadline of July 1,

"If the government doesn't propose a comprehensive solution, to ensure
the safety of the public and crack down on drug-impaired driving,
obviously, there will be obstacles in the Senate," he said in an interview.

Ottawa will also need to work out a system with the provinces by which
marijuana will be sold to the adult public. There have already been
high-level discussions between the two levels of government, but there
are still issues to resolve such as taxation of the product and
education campaigns on the dangers of marijuana, especially among youth.

There is no guarantee all provinces will be ready to oversee the
distribution and the sale of marijuana by the time the product becomes
legal. As a result, federal officials are preparing an "interim
system" that would distribute marijuana across the country if the
provincial infrastructure is not yet in place by the middle of next

Quebec has struck a cabinet committee to co-ordinate planning for
legalization. It met for the first time on Thursday but the government
said it was largely in the dark about the federal legislation's
impacts on the provinces.

"There are risks involved in this if it's not done properly in a
co-ordinated fashion with the provinces," Quebec Premier Philippe
Couillard told reporters in Quebec City. "There are large burdens that
could fall to the provinces when it comes to regulation and building a
framework around this issue. This must not be implemented in a chaotic
fashion. We need the change to be orderly and coherent with our

The Quebec government is set to join forces with Ontario to examine
the federal legislation and find solutions to the host of problems it
may present for the provinces.

"We will have common challenges on issues like health and prevention
and security, especially when it comes to road and workplace safety,"
Quebec Public Health Minister Lucie Charbonneau said.

The federal government is also concerned about the U.S. reaction to
the legalization of cannabis in Canada. A senior federal official said
there will have to be negotiations with the U.S. government to
determine how Canadian citizens will be treated at the border if they
admit to consuming a product that is legal in Canada but not in a
majority of American states.

Justin Trudeau was a newly elected Liberal Leader when he promised to
legalize marijuana for recreational use in the summer of 2013.
Speaking at a rally in Kelowna, B.C., he noticed someone holding a
sign that called for the decriminalization of cannabis. Mr. Trudeau
announced that in fact, he wanted to go one step further.

"I'm actually not in favour of decriminalizing cannabis, I'm in favour
of legalizing it," he said.

Now Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau is stating that his plan will make
marijuana harder to obtain for kids and remove the market from the
grips of organized crime.

- - With a report from Les Perreaux
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