Pubdate: Fri, 11 Aug 2017
Source: Yukon News (CN YK)
Copyright: 2017 Yukon News
Author: Ashley Joannou


Territory will likely have 'phased-in approach' to new weed laws

The territorial government wants to know what the public is looking
for in upcoming marijuana legislation.

In an online survey, open until Sept. 30, the government is asking
Yukoners to answer questions about where cannabis could be consumed in
public, how it will be sold, the legal age for consumption, and
whether any changes need to happen to the territory's occupational
health and safety or driving laws.

It's all being done in anticipation of the federal legalization of
recreational cannabis on July 1, 2018.

Legislation proposed by the federal government would allow adults aged
18 and older to possess up to 30 grams of dried marijuana.

Canada's provinces and territories have the option of tweaking those
rules. Yukon will have to come up with its own set of laws detailing
exactly what cannabis sales in the territory are going to look like.

Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said the government expects to have
some form of its own legislation in place by July 1. The law would be
introduced in the spring 2018 sitting, she said.

As for what exactly that law might look like, the minister said it's
too soon to say. A government working group is still putting together
recommendations, she said.

"Part of what they'll come back to us with is the information that
will be gathered in this survey, among other things."

In the survey Yukoners are being asked if they think the age
restriction in the Yukon should be bumped to 19, to line up with the
territory's liquor laws. Higher restrictions, either to 21 as
recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Society or to 25 as recommended
by the Canadian Medical Association, are also on the list of options
to discuss.

Yukoners are being asked whether the territory should establish retail
stores that would be operated only by the government, allow private
retail stores, or come up with regulations that would allow for some
combination of the two.

McPhee said she's anticipating that the territory will have "a phased
in approach" to its new laws.

"Between now and July of 2018 is not that far away, and what we want
to do is gather every piece of information that we can," she said.

That means certain laws, like those surrounding brick and mortar
locations, could come into effect after July 1.

"The questions in the survey, things like should this be government
selling? Should private industry be able to deal with it? We just
haven't gathered that information."

If the federal law goes through as is, Yukoners would still be able to
get legal cannabis through a federally run online or mail order
delivery system.

The survey touches on whether some regulations should be left up to
local governments "even if it means the potential for different rules
from community to community in Yukon."

Yukoners can also weigh in on whether the territory needs more laws to
regulate drug-impaired driving or impairment in the workplace.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act already allows for workers and
employers to be fined if the worker is found to be impaired in the

The survey doesn't provide specific options for what changes might
look like. In May the Yukon Party introduced a motion in the Yukon
Legislative Assembly calling on the government to develop
post-incident drug and alcohol testing for Yukon government employees
involved in serious workplace incidents.

The motion was not discussed last sitting.

The government's survey is online. It can also be completed over the
phone by calling 1-866-527-8266. McPhee said the government plans to
consult with First Nations, municipal governments, the business
community and non-governmental associations.
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