Pubdate: Mon, 11 Sep 2017
Source: Truro Daily News (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 The Daily News
Author: Andrea Gunn
Page: A5


With the release of Ontario's marijuana legalization framework on
Friday, Nova Scotia's opposition is concerned the provincial
government is dragging its heels.

The first province to have constructed a comprehensive legalization
plan, Ontario's framework includes plans to open 150 standalone
stores, and to have the province's liquor control board oversee all
recreational pot sales.

Ottawa will legalize pot by July 2018 but has left it up to the
individual provinces to design their own distributions.

So far, the Nova Scotia government has been tight-lipped on its plans
surrounding legalization, but Progressive Conservative Pictou West MLA
and opposition justice critic Karla MacFarlane said they need to start

"Right now, many provinces are way ahead of us on this and I would say
we have tons of questions but we have no answers. We have nothing to
go on right now and it's very disappointing," MacFarlane said.

In June, Nova Scotia Finance Minister Karen Casey said the province
would hold public consultations in late summer or early fall on the
issue, but MacFarlane said there's been no update on those since.

When asked, the provincial Department of Justice would not provide any
information on when Nova Scotians can expect some information on the
province's plans, or if Nova Scotia is looking to other provinces to
draft their regulations.

Department spokeswoman Sarah Gillis said the province has "a lot of
work to do and many decisions to make in the coming months" in order
to be ready for legalization by 2018, and said the government will be
looking at various options and will be consulting with Nova Scotians
this fall.

In April, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert
Strang said the province would need at least a two-year period to get
legalization right.

"I really thought we would be going into the fall session with some
sort of start of legislation but I don't know if you can do that
without any consultations, so this is something that looks like we we
will not deal with until the spring session," MacFarlane said.

"That only gives us a couple of months to roll out for 2018, so I'm

Meanwhile, some pot advocates in Nova Scotia are urging the government
to not follow in Ontario's footsteps when crafting legislation.
Diandra Phipps is the manager for eastern Canada with National Access
Cannabis - a medical cannabis information and advocacy organization -
and works out of their location in Halifax.

With police in Nova Scotia cracking down on the slew of illegal pot
shops that have popped up, Phipps said there need to be regulations in
order to ensure quality and safety, but said relegating all sales to a
Crown corporation is not the answer.

Not allowing a private sector to participate in the recreational
cannabis will allow the the black market to thrive, Phipps said.

"A hybrid model is something I think our government and our province
would respond really well to and it would allow for this underground
market to be regulated," she said. Phipps pointed out that unlike
alcohol, the thriving underground cannabis economy comes with a very
strong culture that would likely take issue if the cannabis crusaders
that have fought for legalization are the ones that get shut out,
pushing people to continue to buy from the black marker.
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