Pubdate: Thu, 24 Aug 2017
Source: Telegram, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2017 The Telegram
Author: James McLeod
Page: A1


A majority of interest groups want the government to sell cannabis
through a Crown corporation like the NL Liquor Corp., whereas most
members of the public want to see stand-alone stores selling marijuana
once it's legalized.

The issue of how legalized marijuana will be sold is shaping up to be
one of the most thorny issues for the provincial government to
address, based on a report on public sentiment around

Today, the government is releasing a document summing up what people
said in consultations marijuana legalization, as the province gets
ready for full legalization next year.

On some topics, there's plenty of consensus.

Most people want to see the legal age for buying marijuana set at 19,
and restrictions when it comes to where people can smoke weed, similar
to tobacco. Most people also think there should be additional
consequences for drug-impaired driving.

But on the thorny question of where cannabis should be sold, it's more
complicated. Nearly half of respondents to the government's online
questionnaire said they think it's fine to sell marijuana in places
that also sell alcohol, but nearly as many people - 43 per cent - were
opposed to that idea.

And while public interest groups like medical associations, first
responders, and community organizations and such say that the NLC
should sell cannabis, regular members of the public had a far lower
appetite for that. The government needs to straighten all this out
before July of 2018, when the federal government has said it will
fully legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said that on all these issues, the
government will need to figure out what will work best for the
province, and public consultation is only one piece of the equation.
"This is just a piece of what we're going to do as we move forward in
developing policy, legislation and regulation," he said.

"I don't think for a second that you can look at just what the public
says and making all your decisions based solely on public opinion."

Parsons said that people should read the document and think about
these issues, because people need to be aware of the issues around
marijuana legalization.

"Across just about every part of this survey, people identified
education as crucial," he said.

Parsons also stressed that marijuana won't be the answer to the
province's budget woes.

"This is not a cash cow in the early going, and I don't know if it's
going to be a cash cow at any time," he said.

"This is not something that we can tax heavily, or it'll go right back
to the criminal market, which is what we're trying to avoid."
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