Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jul 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Dean Bennett
Page: A8


Failing that, provinces will call for a delay

EDMONTON - 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 legalize cannabis as of July 1 next

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.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the issues are

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

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 that currently, young people have easy access to marijuana
when they shouldn't and that criminals and street 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 a soon as possible."

As the Canadian Association of Chiefs Of Police concluded a national
conference in Montreal on Wednesday, 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

During their two days of meetings, the premiers also discussed
upcoming talks with the U.S. to renegotiate NAFTA.

They resolved to continue their harm-reduction approach to fighting
the opioid crisis, to work together on a national pharmacare plan, and
to revisit minimum sentences and hire more judges in light of the
Supreme Court's decision that cases must be tossed out if they are
overly delayed.

The meeting went ahead without B.C. Premier John Horgan, who was sworn
into the province's top job on Tuesday.
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