Pubdate: Fri, 14 Apr 2017
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Catherine Griwkowsky
Page: 6
Referenced: Cannabis Act:


Notley wants consultations on marijuana policy

It's going to be challenging to get the province ready for the federal
government's deadline of July 1, 2018, for legalized marijuana in the
country, says Premier Rachel Notley.

Bills tabled Thursday in the House of Commons in Ottawa kickstart a
national move toward legalization of recreational pot for people 18
and older.

A lot of decisions in the "very ambitious project"will be left to
provinces to figure out before the law takes effect, Notley told
reporters Thursday at the Alberta legislature.

"Our government is focused on protecting kids, protecting health,
protecting safety in our workplaces and highways, and doing so in a
cost-effective way," said Notley.

The federal government has set the minimum age at 18, but provinces
can decide to bump that higher and choose how marijuana will be

Notley said she wants to have extensive consultations with Albertans
before making any decisions. She said the province has been looking at
states like Colorado, which has already legalized marijuana, and is
considering some of the pros and cons of legalization.

"It's not the cash cow people think it is. There's a lot of costs
associated with it," said Notley.

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Thursday the federal
government's timeline for the legislation is "ambitious," but hoped it
would be possible and expected that there would be further
conversations with the federal government if that changed.

Ganley said one thing the province learned from Colorado is it makes
more sense to over-regulate the drug in the beginning, because it's
easier to remove regulations than to add them down the road.

Municipalities will also struggle with the tight turnaround, and need
more time to get it right, said Alberta Urban Municipalities
Association president Lisa Holmes in a news release.

Revenue should go towards supporting mental health and addiction
services, said Alberta Liberal interim leader David Swann.

The legislation would allow police to use "oral fluid screening
devices" to test for marijuana impairment.

The Edmonton Police Service "usually doesn't participate in
discussions regarding new or updated legislation" spokeswoman Carolin
Maran said in an e-mail Thursday.

She said the organization would be in a better position to speak to
issues such as impaired driving in late June or early July. A
spokesperson at RCMP K Division said to expect a comment from the
federal police force's communications department next week.Impaired

Stiffer penalties for drug-impaired driving are good, but there are
issues that still need to be addressed such as funding and public
education, the Alberta Motor Association said in a news release.

"This is a complex issue that requires considerable police training
and public education,"Jeff Kasbrick, AMA vice-president of government
and stakeholder relations, said in a release Thursday. "We're still
waiting for the details on additional funding to make the legislation
enforceable. This needs to happen sooner rather than later."

Workplace safety issues still need to be addressed, according to an
Edmonton Chamber of Commerce position statement.

Keeping marijuana away from children is "paramount," said a statement
from the Alberta Liquor Store Association. The organization applauds
the decision to allow co-location of marijuana and alcohol sales.

- - With files from the Canadian Press
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