Pubdate: Sat, 16 Sep 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Author: James Wood
Page: A4


Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley says she's not expecting "complete
consensus" as Alberta prepares to release its plan for legal cannabis
in a matter of weeks.

As the federal Liberal government prepares to legalize the
recreational use of marijuana on July 1, 2018, it falls to the
provinces to deal with issues such as the minimum age for consumption
and how pot will be distributed and sold.

In written submissions to its cannabis secretariat, Alberta's NDP
government has heard wide-ranging options for how retail sales of
marijuana should be handled, including allowing new standalone
specialized stores, utilizing existing private liquor stores or
government-controlled sales.

At a meeting of Canada's justice and public safety ministers Friday in
Vancouver, Ganley avoided a question on whether the province was
considering the creation of a Crown corporation or government-run
stores to be responsible for cannabis sales.

With the initial phase of government consultations over, the province
will soon release its plan for review and feedback from the public,
she said.

"This is not an area in which you can reach complete consensus.
There's always going to be divergent views ... but we should have in
the next couple of weeks a framework coming out for Albertans to
comment on," said Ganley, who co-chairs the provincial working group
on legal pot.

Ontario recently announced legal cannabis would be sold in that
province through a network of new stores operated by the government's
Liquor Control Board of Ontario. New Brunswick announced Friday that
it would create a new Crown corporation to oversee sales of
recreational marijuana but has not finalized its retail model.

In its written submission to the province, Alberta Health Services
said the best model for legal marijuana would be "a government
controlled system of distribution and retail." AHS has refused to
clarify, however, whether it is calling for government-owned and
operated stores. The Alberta government has not owned liquor stores
since Klein-era privatization in the 1990s.

The provincial health authority also suggested Alberta consider
setting 21 as the minimum legal age for marijuana consumption and
potentially raise the current legal age for drinking alcohol and
smoking - 18 - to match.

Ottawa has set 18 as the legal minimum age for marijuana nationally,
but provinces can set their own upwards age limits, with Ontario
announcing 19 as its cut-off.

The clock is ticking on Alberta to unveil its marijuana regime as the
Trudeau government is determined to keep to its planned timeline for

Police chiefs were the latest group to call for the legalization date
to be pushed back, telling MPs this week that they won't be ready for
legal marijuana next year.

But Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Friday in Vancouver that
an enormous amount of work has already been done on the issue over the
last two years and the pieces are ready to fall into place as
provinces release their own plans.

"The momentum is building. The work is going forward. The objective of
implementation for summer of next year appears to be a reasonable
one," he told reporters.
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MAP posted-by: Matt