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Legal weed in 2018 likely, but few details from the province on how it’ll work

Marijuana plants recently seized by the RCMP.
Marijuana plants recently seized by the RCMP.

Updated: Federal MP Bill Blair confirmed to reporters Tuesday that Ottawa is aiming to make marijuana legal for recreational use by July of 2018, although he was at pains to downplay any sense that it might be fun.

In nearly every question about marijuana, Blair talked about how the government’s legalization effort is all about “strict regulation” and control in order to keep the drugs out of the hands of kids, and the profits out of the hands of organized crime.

As for the July 2018 date, which was reported this week by the CBC, Blair called that “an aspirational date” and said that, “We’ll take as much time as it takes to get it right.”

He said that getting it right means keeping the drugs out of the hands of kids through strict regulation and controls.

But a big part of this will fall into the provincial government’s lap, when it comes to regulating distribution, taxation and justice enforcement.

And on that front, Justice Minister Andrew Parsons was pretty vague when he was asked by reporters.

Parsons said he’s confident the provincial government will be ready by 2018 or whenever the federal government gets it right. But for right now, he said the province has to wait and see how things unfold.

He said he’s been having lots of conversations about the issue — pretty much weekly — but he wouldn’t give any hints about how the Newfoundland and Labrador legal marijuana regulations would look.

He also wouldn’t commit to consulting the public about it, although he vaguely said it’s probably a good idea.

“I’d like to think there’ll be consultation among the different stakeholders and people that have an interest in this, but again, that’s a cabinet decision and a premier’s decision,” he said.

“So I’m just one part of that.”

Later in the day, when The Telegram caught up with Premier Dwight Ball, he was similarly noncommittal about the marijuana issue.

“We’ve been focused, really, on our budget, on our throne speech,” Ball said.

“Right now we have not discussed what it would look like, but obviously there would always be room for public consultation and discussion in the decisions that we make.”

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