Legalization | For the cannabis community across Canada, legalization day in July 2018 cannot come soon enough. But for the provinces, the deadline is coming faster than a freight train.
At the annual Premier’s Conference this week, the leaders of each province chimed in and shared their progress while airing their grievances over the legalization process. The main complaint is that the provinces will not be ready by the proposed July deadline — they want an extension.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister was of the extreme opinion that legalization should be delayed an entire year to July 1, 2019.
That date comes dangerously close to the next federal election, which is scheduled to take place on or before October 21, 2019. If Trudeau were to lose, the most likely replacement would be a Conservative Party government that may want to swiftly extinguish the flames of cannabis reform in Canada.
Pallister wants the delay because he would like to avoid seeing a multitude of minimum age limits and retail options across provinces, which appears likely to occur given the current path of legalization. He used Canada’s mishmash of liquor regulations as an example.
“I would hope we could learn from that and not recreate that for cannabis,” Pallister said. “There are too many unanswered questions, too many issues that have not been addressed for us to rush into what is an historic change.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said that his province wouldn’t mind an extension because there are “a lot of moving parts” when taking something out of the shadows of prohibition.
Stephen McNeil, the Premier of Nova Scotia, believes that his Atlantic province will be ready in time for next year’s deadline, and said that Eastern Canada should have a consensus on age limits. “In Atlantic Canada, there needs to be a uniform age, there needs to be uniform regulations across our respective provinces,” said McNeil, who feels that the minimum age should be 19.
Premier Kathleen Wynne of Ontario has no expectations of an extension and said that work in Ontario is currently being done on traffic safety and protecting the health of youth wherever cannabis will be sold.
As for our friends in the French Province of Quebec, Premier Philippe Couillard said that he would be fine with a delay, but doesn’t expect it will happen. “We’ve heard the prime minister say he was very firm on July 1 . We are working under the assumption that this will be the date.”
Despite the chorus of naysayers among Canada’s premiers, the one opinion that matters is that of their boss, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Canada’s leader continues to stand firm on his legalization date. If the provinces aren’t prepared come legalization day, Trudeau has been clear that the feds will step in so all Canadian adults have access to legal marijuana.