Pubdate: Sat, 28 Oct 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Kelly Cryderman
Page: S1


Alberta will introduce legislation laying out its plan for cannabis
legalization, and also make a final call on whether storefront sales
will be managed by government monopoly or private interests, before
the end of the year.

Alberta laid out the broad strokes of its cannabis plan earlier this
month. But NDP government House Leader Brian Mason said Friday the
province will introduce two pieces of legislation in the fall sitting:
One will deal with the road-safety and impairment aspects of cannabis
and the other dealing with cannabis regulation, including
distribution, sales, where it can be consumed and the minimum legal
age. He added that, across the country, everyone is scrambling to have
their own province-specific laws in place before Ottawa's July 1,
2018, deadline for recreational marijuana legalization.

"This is something that has been dropped on us by the federal
government," Mr. Mason said. "Everyone is running out of time."

In its draft plan unveiled early this month, Alberta laid out a
flexible approach for marijuana legalization. The province's blueprint
would allow for public consumption in many areas, as long as it is far
away from schools, playgrounds and other sites frequented by children.
It also suggests the minimum age for consumption should be set at 18 -
the same as the legal drinking age in Alberta.

The government gave Albertans until Friday at midnight to comment on
the draft plan. Legislation will come in the weeks ahead.

Earlier this month, Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said the
government isn't favouring either the private model or a government

But she noted that a private model is the one Albertans are most
familiar with since the province closed its last Alberta Liquor
Control Board store 23 years ago.

One Calgary academic has suggested the government implement a hybrid
system. Kelly Sundberg, a professor of justice and policy studies at
Mount Royal University, said the government should embrace a franchise
model - making outlets available to individuals or non-profit groups,
with standardized branding elements, and furnishing and design, at 370
locations across the province.

Prof. Sundberg recommends limiting the number of franchises owned by
any one person or group to three, to discourage big U.S. marijuana
players from taking over. He argues that such a system could create
more than 1,000 new full-time jobs, create hundreds of millions of
dollars in private economic activity and almost $215-million a year in
government revenues.

"Why not allow young people, aboriginals, and newcomers an opportunity
to gain entry to a really interesting new industry in the province -
and actually do it in a way that's kind of balanced?" he said in an

Ontario, which will also introduce cannabis legislation this fall,
said on Friday it is taking the initial steps to identify the
storefront locations for marijuana sales. In September, Ontario became
the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and distribute
recreational marijuana, and will set the legal age to purchase it at
19. The province plans to set up approximately 150 standalone cannabis
stores, run by a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, by
2020. New Brunswick has also revealed some of its marijuana plans.
British Columbia wraps up its public consultation period on Nov. 1.

Alberta's legislature resumes on Monday. On the broader legislative
front, Mr. Mason said the list of bills includes one that will see the
province put legal teeth behind its pledge to protect the identities
of children and teens who join peer support groups called gay-straight
alliances (GSAs).

The move stands specifically to challenge the position of Jason
Kenney, the presumed front-runner in the United Conservative Party
leadership race, who has said in some cases it's best to tell parents
their children have joined a GSA, and that school officials are in the
best position to make the decision.

The government will also beef up consumer-protection measures,
workplace-standards legislation and will introduce a bill to protect
people from age discrimination. The first bill of the sitting will be
one that addresses gas-and-dash risks - following two high-profile
cases in which gas station employees were struck and killed by fleeing
vehicles - likely by forcing people to pay before they fill up.

Mr. Mason acknowledged the possibility of "continuing fluidity" in the
legislature as the province awaits the results of the UCP leadership
vote, with results to be announced Saturday. Of the three candidates
in the race, Brian Jean, Mr. Kenney, and Doug Schweitzer, only Mr.
Jean is a sitting MLA.
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MAP posted-by: Matt