Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jul 2017
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Dean Bennett
Page: B1


Premiers Frustrated By Lack Of Answers From Federal Gov't On Pot 

Canada's premiers say the federal government needs to provide more
clarity as they work to craft rules on legalizing marijuana - or
Ottawa will face a call for a delay.

"It's great that the prime minister wants to stick to his deadline.
That's super-duper," Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday
at the closing news conference of the leaders' annual summer meeting.

"He needs to then hear what the premiers of his country - our country
- - have said we need help with. There are a number of significant and
serious public policy issues here. They need to be addressed. They
should be addressed co-operatively."

The federal government plans to pass legislation that would legalize
cannabis as of July 1 next year.

The premiers have formed a working group to identify common concerns,
seek answers from Ottawa and to provide recommendations by November on
how to move forward.

It is up to the provinces to develop rules in their jurisdictions on
how cannabis will be distributed and sold, what public places it will
be allowed in and what the minimum age to buy it should be.

Pallister on Tuesday pushed for a one-year delay given what he called
the sheer amount of work and unanswered questions over how legalized
marijuana could affect Canadians.

In the end, the premiers did not call for a delay, but said in a
closing communique that the provinces might ask for an extension if
Ottawa does not help them resolve the issues of distribution, safety,
taxation, justice and public education.

"We'll work to the deadline, but as things stand right now there is
work that also needs to be done by the federal government in order for
us to meet it," said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. "It has not yet
been done." Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the issues are critical.

"The starting point is: Have we met the public safety concerns? Are we
sure that we have the provisions in place to protect youth (and) do we
understand what the highway traffic implications are?" she said.

"We have to make sure that we can keep people safe."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked at a stop in Quebec City if
there is any flexibility to the July 1 deadline. He replied that the
goal is still to have the law passed by next summer.

He said right now young people have easy access to marijuana when they
shouldn't and criminals and streets gangs are making millions through
illegal sales.

"We need to put an end to this policy that does not work," Trudeau
said. "We are continuing to work with the provinces to make sure the
framework will be in place as soon as possible."

The Canadian Association of Chiefs Of Police on Wednesday concluded a
national conference in Montreal where president Mario Harel warned
that organized crime won't simply withdraw from the marijuana market
when recreational cannabis becomes legal.

Harel said extra funds will be needed for equipment and to train
officers to detect drug-impaired drivers.

Harel, who is police chief in Gatineau, Que., suggested about 2,000
such experts will be needed and estimated there are about 600 across
Canada now.
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