Pubdate: Sat, 09 Sep 2017
Source: Prince Albert Daily Herald (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 Prince Albert Daily Herald
Author: Arthur White-Crummey
Page: 15


A new online survey allows Saskatchewan residents to weigh in on what
the province's marijuana regime should look like

Saskatchewan residents can now share their thoughts on who should be
able to buy, sell and grow marijuana, with just a few clicks on a
government survey.

Ottawa plans to legalize marijuana by July of 2018, but is leaving it
up to the provinces to design their own regulatory system. The
provincial government launched an online survey Friday to solicit
public feedback. It's open to any Saskatchewan resident over the age
of 18, and is set to run until October 6.

"The legalization of cannabis represents a big change," Justice
Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan was quoted as saying in a
press release.

"We want to take the time to listen to and consult with the people of
this province to ensure we implement the parts of this legislation
that are under our control in a way that works for

Residents can remain anonymous as they answer 26 questions about
marijuana regulation. They can choose whether cannabis should be sold
online or in retail stores, and whether those stores should be
government-run, corporate-run or small businesses.

The survey gives three selections for the minimum age of consumption,
18, 19 and 21, though respondents can key in a higher number if they
wish. They can also weigh in on where people should be able to grow
marijuana plants and how much cannabis they should be permitted to buy
at once. There are also questions on whether municipalities should be
able to pass stricter regulations to control marijuana sales and how
drug-impaired driving laws should compare to drunk driving penalties.

The questionnaire came online on the very day that Ontario announced a
marijuana framework that many are calling draconian. Under the Ontario
plan, all private dispensaries will be shut down and smoking pot will
be forbidden in all public areas.

In a press conference Friday, Morgan said that the government will pay
attention to what other provinces roll out and that he favours
"consistency" across the country. But he said they aren't sure whether
Ontario's "government model" is best for Saskatchewan.

"We haven't made any decision as to whether that would be something
that would be a strong contender for consideration here," he said. "I
suspect we would be looking at other options."

If Saskatchewan goes for a private model, he suggested, dispensaries
operating illegally would be able to legalize their operations. He
said that the government has not yet made a decision on whether
cannabis will be available in liquor stores. Taxation will likely be
"similar" to what's in place for alcohol and tobacco.

On impaired driving, he said that new drivers would likely face a
"zero" limit, while experienced drivers would be permitted to have a
small amount in their system - so long as they aren't impaired.

Morgan explained that the province has four priorities for its system:
restricting the illegal market, keeping pot away from children and
youth, protecting health and promoting safety on roadways, workplaces
and public spaces. The survey allows respondents to rank those concerns.

Saskatchewan has asked the feds for a one-year extension while it
considers its options, Morgan explained. But he stressed that,
whatever happens, the province wants to have a regulatory framework
ready by deadline.

"We have to have something in place by then," he said. "We don't want
to be in a place where the federal government legislation is in place
and our protective scheme or our regulatory scheme is not there."

Morgan said that the province will likely roll out a discussion paper,
with an initial position, after considering the concerns residents
raise in the survey. He said legislation probably won't be passed
until the spring session, when a new premier has taken office. But
bureaucrats are already hard at work getting things ready.

"I think we've got really good people working within the ministries
giving us advice," he said.

The survey can be accessed at:
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MAP posted-by: Matt