Pubdate: Tue, 18 Apr 2017
Source: Guardian, The (CN PI)
Copyright: 2017 The Guardian, Charlottetown Guardian Group Incorporated
Page: A6
Referenced: Cannabis Act:


The Atlantic provinces have some blue-sky thinking to do, and not much
time to do it. Or more to the point: maybe they have some blue-smoke
thinking to be doing.

Last week, the federal government announced its plans to legalize
marijuana and, in so doing, threw the ball into the provincial court.
The provinces will have the final say on how weed will be marketed in
their regions, and also on things like the minimum age of purchasers.
And that's only the beginning. In fact, the provinces have more than a
little heavy lifting of their own to do in the 15 months before the
federal government's changed rules become law.

For the most part, the response has been like that of a representative
for Nova Scotia's provincial government: "Legalization of cannabis
must ensure that the health and safety of children and youth are
protected. It is important that we focus on responsible use and that
the sale of cannabis is well-regulated and minimizes the involvement
of organized crime."

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there was a promise of public
consultation and a clear process for police to deal with pot-impaired
drivers, with Justice Minister Andrew Parsons saying, "No doubt
there's a lot of challenges here. This is a huge, fundamental shift
for our province, and for the country."

Prince Edward Island already has a licensed medical marijuana
producer, as does New Brunswick. And while P.E.I. politicians may
still be considering the impact of the upcoming legislation, in New
Brunswick, they've jumped in with both feet.

The push has been to take advantage of a financial opportunity: "We
believe that here in New Brunswick, we should do what we can to get a
piece of the economic growth that's going to happen because of the
legalization of marijuana. There are going to be jobs created,"
Premier Brian Gallant said in early April. "Once we keep people safe
and get marijuana out of the hands of youth, we should be treating
this industry as any other."

There's a lot to do, and precious little time. And the four Atlantic
provinces, with so much in common, should be aware that, along with
shared borders, we're going to have shared marijuana users. If one
jurisdiction has regulation that's more lax than the others, buyers
will stream in and pot will stream out.

It makes for an interesting juggling act - not only do individual
provincial governments have to listen to the desires of their
constituents, they have to be aware of the close geographic

There are interesting times ahead and a tight timeline, along with the
chance at a new source of tax revenue.

Not being ready when next July arrives probably isn't an option. As
other jurisdictions have shown, if you're not ready for marijuana
legalization, it can overtake you in a hurry.
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