The Trudeau government is sticking with its deadline to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018, despite provincial fears that there’s not enough time to address the legal, social and health challenges of ending Canada’s pot prohibition.
The federal Liberals delivered that message Monday after Manitoba’s finance minister said he felt rushed by Ottawa’s tight timeline and asked for an extension.
In making his argument, Cameron Friesen said the provinces are bearing the bulk of the work involved, as well as the “very real” costs needed to create a regulated cannabis market.
The federal government introduced legislation in April, with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational marijuana by July 2018.
With the countdown underway, Friesen insisted there were still many unanswered questions on issues like public safety, enforcement and finding legal supplies of marijuana.
“We have one year on the clock to put all this in place,” Friesen said before a meeting in Ottawa with his federal and provincial counterparts to discuss, among other issues, how best to tax Canada’s forthcoming legal pot industry.
“This is a very significant shift in how we’ll operate, and we need to have that adequate time to develop the tools that we will need as a province to be able to implement this the correct way.”
Friesen said he had already raised the idea of an extension with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and would push the issue again. Later in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself essentially snuffed out the idea.
“We gave everybody lots of time,” Trudeau said in Ottawa. “We’ve been working for a long time with all the provinces, with the municipalities… It’s time for us to move forward on this.”