Published: February 28, 2018
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
As the chamber of sober second thought gets ready to review legislation that will make recreational cannabis a legal to possess substance, Kenora MP Bob Nault says the government is optimistic everything will be completed and in the hands of the province by the fall.
“As we have said before we are trying to get this done right, not get it done fast,” said Nault on Feb. 21 discussing the Senate review process that is not expected to wrap up until early June pushing the anticipated legalization date past the government’s original timeline.
“[Amendments] would delay the timeframe unless we agree with them and then it will move fairly quickly.”
Last week government sources confirmed a plan to legalize cannabis by July 1, 2018 was not viable as legislation decriminalizing the substance won’t be voted on in the Senate until early June, pushing Royal Assent and implementation of the bill till later in the summer. The date could further be extended, said officials, if there are proposed amendments.
Nault said last week he expects upcoming discussions to centre on provisions for home growth of the drug and location of usage.
“I think there are expectations that there will be discussions about, for example, the whole idea of being able to grow so many plants at home. The second part of the discussion, which I thought was very clear, but people want to talk more about is the issue of where you can participate in smoking cannabis.”
“Generally speaking I thought the view was that you would be doing it the privacy of your own property and the province and municipalities have a lot to say about areas like school zones, public buildings, which is similar to smoking cigarettes,” he added.
In Ontario the provincial government passed legislation in December in preparation of the federal act regulating the “lawful use, sale and distribution” of recreational cannabis. The legislation created a new provincial retailer, overseen by the LCBO, which will open 40 stores by the summer and a further 110 by 2020. The legal age for use has been set at 19 years of age to buy, possess and cultivate in the province and use of the substance will be banned in public places, workplaces and motor vehicles, similar to alcohol.
“With the passage of this legislation, Ontario will be ready to regulate recreational cannabis once legalized by the federal government in July 2018,” said Attorney General of Ontario Yasir Naqvi said last month. “Our legislation builds on federal laws and creates new rules that will help ensure cannabis remains a carefully controlled substance in Ontario – and that we are better able to protect our young people and keep impaired drivers off the road.”
Other provinces say they are not yet ready for legalization of recreational marijuana. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard welcomed the delay earlier this month noting, “It gives us more time to prepare.”