Pubdate: Fri, 08 Dec 2017
Source: Cape Breton Post (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Cape Breton Post
Author: Keith Doucette
Page: A1


Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island both set legal age for marijuana use
at 19

Nova Scotia and P.E.I. both set their legal age for marijuana at 19 on
Thursday, but the two East Coast provinces are taking different paths
on how weed will be sold.

P.E.I. said it will sell marijuana at standalone outlets run
separately by its liquor commission, while Nova Scotia said pot will
be sold alongside alcohol in its provincial liquor stores.

Justice Minister Mark Furey said Thursday Nova Scotia believes selling
marijuana through existing liquor stores will provide the necessary
control to ensure public safety.

"They have a social responsibility mandate and we trust their
experience in selling restricted products,'' said Furey. "The Nova
Scotia Liquor Commission also has the infrastructure in place to
support a province-wide retail operation.''

P.E.I. noted its decision on separate stores was in line with a
recommendation last year by the federal task force on cannabis
legalization and regulation. It said there should be no co-location of
alcohol and cannabis sales where possible, saying that appropriate
safeguards should be put in place if co-sales couldn't be avoided.

"Dedicated stores will avoid encouraging the use of both alcohol and
cannabis together,'' the Island government said in a release Thursday.

The approach to retail varies nationally, with Alberta and
Newfoundland and Labrador offering pot sales through private stores,
while British Columbia will sell through a mix of private and public

Ontario intends to sell the drug in up to 150 stores run by the Liquor
Control Board of Ontario, while Quebec plans to sell pot through its
provincially run liquor board and also plans to open 15 marijuana
stores by July 1.

New Brunswick announced last month that people would be able to buy
marijuana at a subsidiary of the province's liquor commission. Furey
said he believes Nova Scotia's plan aligns with what the task force
said should happen when locations sell marijuana and liquor. He said
the commission can train its staff and post clear signage warning of
the dangers of co-usage.

"That model of retail actually provides a level of control that the
Nova Scotia Liquor Commission provides now through its employees in
the retail of alcohol.''

Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative MLA Karla MacFarlane called the
government's distribution approach and age limit "shameful.''

MacFarlane said the province ignored the task force's concerns on
sales, and health experts who wanted a higher age limit.

"When the minister says that our number one priority was health and
concern for our youth we clearly have failed them,'' she said.

MacFarlane said the government clearly wants to use existing liquor
stores to save money.

But NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the government made the right move by
keeping retail sales in the hands of the public sector.

He said the liquor commission is "in the business'' of conducting
distribution and retailing in the context of public education and
public health risks.

"This is an area in which the NSLC has skill and I think that the
government has made the right decision to place it in their hands,''
Burrill said.

Furey said Nova Scotia's age restriction aligns the province with
what's happening nationally.

"This aligns with our legal drinking age, which all jurisdictions have
done with the exception of Manitoba,'' said Furey.

P.E.I. said in 2015 almost 29% of Islanders aged 18 to 24 reported
using cannabis in the previous year, and it chose its legal age with
that in mind.

"We know that many young adults are using cannabis,'' its statement
said. "We want to ensure that if a 19 year old chooses to use
cannabis, that they can do so through a legal supply, and not force
them to associate with a criminal source.''

P.E.I. also said it would restrict marijuana use to private
residences, to prevent exposure to second-hand smoke, ease the burden
on police, and "prevent the normalization of cannabis smoking without

Both Nova Scotia and P.E.I. said they would also allow online

Furey said the province also accepts federal rules setting a personal
possession limit of up to 30 grams, a personal cultivation limit of up
to four plants per household and will establish provincial penalties
for youth possession of up to five grams.

Furey said one of the commission's biggest anticipated challenges
would be getting enough marijuana to meet demand.

He said the government's preference is to use Nova Scotia production
facilities, although only two have so far received federal approval to
grow pot and they still aren't licensed to sell.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt