Article by Mike Hager, The Globe and Mail
Ottawa’s plan to legalize marijuana by next year could hit serious roadblocks across the country, as provinces and territories are expected to have different approaches to solving complicated policy issues such as where to sell cannabis and how much to tax the drug.
The government signalled this weekend it expects to roll out legislation before April 20 – a day cannabis is celebrated across the globe – and that the recreational use of the drug would reportedly be legalized by July 1, 2018.
But, to date, the federal government has indicated that it will leave the contentious issues of regulating the wholesale distribution and retailing of cannabis up to the provinces and territories, a move that could make next year’s target seem too ambitious for some jurisdictions, several industry insiders and academics told The Globe and Mail.
Perry Kendall, B.C.’s provincial health officer and a member of last year’s federal task force that informed the government’s continuing approach to legalization, said some provinces want a slower approach while others favour bolder action. He said those who want faster changes argued the current grey period – where the drug “is going to be legal but isn’t now” – has left municipalities, police forces, provinces and territories hamstrung.
“They’re all calling for clarity,” said Dr. Kendall, who said he first became attuned to the harms of cannabis prohibition while working as the City of Toronto’s chief medical health officer during the mid-1990s.