Provinces want more time to legalize pot, say 2018 goal ‘rushed’ – Politics

Manitoba’s finance minister says he’s feeling rushed by the Trudeau government’s July 2018 timeline for legalizing recreational marijuana and he wants more time.

Cameron Friesen said Monday that with the clock ticking there are still many unanswered questions on issues like public safety, enforcement and finding legal supplies of marijuana.

Provinces, he argued, are responsible for much of the work and the “very real” costs needed to create a regulated cannabis market.

Speaking in Ottawa before a federal-provincial finance ministers meeting, Friesen said he had already raised the idea of an extension with federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Friesen didn’t reveal how much extra time he’s hoping for, but said he expected the issue to come up during the talks.

“In respect of a July 1, 2018, deadline, we’re concerned and we’ll express that upstairs — it feels rushed,” Friesen told reporters before entering the meeting.

“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.”

Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen, front, and Saskatchewan Finance Minister Kevin Doherty arrive Sunday for a dinner meeting with provincial and territorial counterparts ministers in Ottawa. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Finance ministers from across the federation are meeting to discuss several economic issues, including how best to tax Canada’s forthcoming legal pot industry.

The federal government introduced legislation in April with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational pot by July 1, 2018.

‘Co-ordinated approach’

Pot taxation is expected to stay low to ensure the regulated market squeezes out the illegal activity.

But lawmakers have yet to offer details on how tax revenues could be shared between provinces and the federal government.

Ottawa has signalled it would like to reach a “co-ordinated…

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