EDMONTON – It’s Weed Wednesday at the premiers meeting in Edmonton.
The leaders of Canada’s provinces and territories are set to compare notes on how to handle the rules when the federal government legalizes recreational use of cannabis next July.
While Ottawa will pass the enabling legislation, it will be up to the provinces to decide how cannabis will be distributed and sold, what public places it will be allowed and whether the minimum age to buy it will be higher than 18.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the sheer amount of work and the unanswered questions require a one-year delay on implementation.
“It’s too soon,” Pallister said at a media availability on Tuesday. “We aren’t ready as a country to fully address the issues that may come up as a consequence of this.”
Pallister said domestic issues aren’t the only ones that need resolving. He suggested there are also questions on how Canada will interact with its largest trading partner, the United States, where only a handful of states have legalized marijuana use.
“Better co-ordination among the provinces will be helpful in respect of getting at a lot of these issues.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said her government is consulting the public as her province prepares to meet the July 1 deadline, but she hasn’t ruled out asking for an extension.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne and Stephen McNeil of Nova Scotia said they are also working to be ready by July 1.
McNeil said rules needs to be uniform across the country, particularly in Atlantic Canada and especially around the minimum age.
“I’ve said all along I believe 19 (as a minimum age) makes sense,” he said.