Provinces want more time to legalize pot, say 2018 goal 'rushed'

Xavier Trudeau
Juin 20, 2017

Morneau was expected to speak to reporters about the meeting at 4:15 p.m. ET.

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

"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".

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

Earlier this year, Ottawa put forth introduced legislation to make the recreational use of marijuana legal by July 1, 2018.

Sources say Ottawa wants provinces and territories to agree to three broad priorities when coming up with their marijuana strategies: a co-ordinated approach, a low taxation rate, and a commitment to ongoing collaboration and co-operation.

Provincial ministers are planning to push Ottawa to ensure they receive a share of pot-related tax revenue that fairly reflects the added costs provinces will have to assume on the road to legalization. Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa articulated that concern when he told CTV News, "There's going to be a lot of requirements on behalf of the provinces". Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said the provinces will be doing all the "heavy lifting" while Quebec Public Health Minister Lucile Charlebois has publicly said she doesn't believe the revenues are going to be sufficient to cover the cost associated with regulations the drug.

He also noted that a cannabis working group has been assessing the next steps on key issues like taxation, consumption, sobriety tests and public awareness campaigns.

That hasn't satisfied the provincial critics who see the legalization scheme as half-baked.

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