Premiers may request extension of July 2018 implementation date for cannabis legalization

In the absence of John Horgan, premiers form working group for cannabis legalization at summer meeting

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      While John Horgan was preparing to be sworn in as B.C.'s new premier, premiers of other provinces and territories gathered for three days in Edmonton for the 2017 summer Council of the Federation meeting.

      As discussions wrapped up today, a news release from the premiers in attendance detailed their plan to take a "focused approach" to the federal government's plan to legalize cannabis.

      In an effort to "achieve better outcomes for Canadians", a provincial-territorial working group on cannabis legalization was established. 

      The group is to report back to premiers by November 1, with information about common considerations and best practices for legalization and regulation, that are "guided by the objectives of reducing harm, protecting public safety and reducing illicit activity."

      In the release, premiers noted the significant costs associated with administration and regulation, public education and law enforcement efforts, and called on the federal government, "as the government advancing this policy change," to invest more resources in supporting cannabis legalization.

      Some premiers have found the federal government's proposed implementation date of July 1, 2018 to be problematic. Across the board, premiers relayed that engagement and information sharing from the federal government is critical.

      The release also listed five issues that premiers said need to be resolved: road safety and enforcement mechanisms, preparation and training for a distribution network, taxation arrangements and cost coverage, public education campaigns, and supply, demand, and the relationship to the black market.

      "If these outstanding issues are not properly addressed by the federal government, provinces and territories will require an extension of the implementation date," it reads.

      For the full release from the Premiers' summer meeting, click here.