Pubdate: Thu, 13 Apr 2017
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Prince George Citizen
Author: Kristy Kirkup
Page: 4


OTTAWA - Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says legalizing
marijuana is already proving to be a "tremendous" undertaking for the
provinces and territories - and it's only going to get worse today.

That's when the federal government introduces its long-awaited
legislation to legalize pot across Canada, a seismic policy shift that
has provincial, territorial and municipal governments looking for
something to hold on to.

Ontario has been collaborating with other jurisdictions to share
information ahead of the federal legislation being tabled, Naqvi said,
noting much work involving multiple ministries has been done in
preparation for the changing landscape - details of which are expected
in the forthcoming Liberal legislation.

Naqvi said he expects to see a fairly detailed bill - one that's going
to take time to unpack, particularly when it comes to the impact on
provincial governments, where issues like distribution and enforcement
are front and centre.

"This is quite a large undertaking," he said. "I think last time we
legalized a product that was not legal was the end of prohibition in
the 1930s."

Last year, Ontario established a cannabis legalization secretariat -
part of an effort to explore various options the federal legislation
could present to prevent having to start from scratch once the bill is

"We want to make sure that we are protecting the vulnerable and the
youth, that we are promoting public health and road safety and that we
are focusing on prevention and harm reduction," Naqvi said.

"This is also multi-ministerial work because there are several
ministries that are impacted."

Ontario has also formed a working group with Quebec on marijuana to
share expertise and co-operate on analysis of the federal

Saskatchewan Justice Minister Gordon Wyant said Wednesday a number of
systems will need to be in place to ensure continued public safety,
including on roadways and at workplaces.

The prairie provinces have said they want Ottawa to cover the
additional law enforcement costs that are likely to come with
legalized pot.

Bill Blair, the federal parliamentary secretary to the minister of
justice and the government's point man on pot, said the federal
government recognizes and respects the role of the provinces in the
legalization of marijuana.

"We know that the provinces will have a very significant role,
particularly in managing the retail environment and the consumption
regulations," Blair said in a recent interview.

"In order to do that effectively, they are going to need to have
resources for the administration and enforcement ... and so that's
part of an important discussion that will take place between the
federal government and the provinces."

Blair also said the federal government is committed to ensuring that
police and courts have technology, training and resources to keep roads 

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister had urged Ottawa to slow down on
marijuana legalization, but the province has nonetheless been laying
the groundwork for the federal plan.

The Manitoba government brought forward a bill last month that sets
restrictions on marijuana similar to those on alcohol - it lists
marijuana as an intoxicant and bans people from consuming it in a vehicle.

Alberta, meanwhile, has taken a waitand-see approach.

Last month, Premier Rachel Notley said her government will be
"consulting with Albertans about how best to do this in a way that
preserves public safety, preserves health and protects our young people."

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says her fear is that legalization will
send the message that the drug is "harm free," despite the fact it
remains a dangerous substance.

"It's not harm-free," she told The Canadian Press.

"Just like alcohol, it's got a lot of harms associated with it, so I
want to make sure we do everything we can to keep it out of the hands
of kids."

- - With files from Allison Jones in Toronto and Tim Cook in Edmonton.
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