The current sitting of Saskatchewan’s legislative assembly is set to conclude Thursday with no sign of legislation governing the overall framework of how legal marijuana will be regulated next year.
Big questions that still require answers include where marijuana will be sold in Saskatchewan, will it be sold publicly or privately, and what the minimum age of purchase will be.
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The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) has been calling for the release of legislation.
“We’re going to have to have bylaws in place before July 1. We were really hoping that the government of Saskatchewan would be giving us some indication,” SUMA president Gordon Barnhart said.
It is highly unlikely legislation will be introduced by the end of this sitting of the assembly on Thursday. Barnhart now would like to at least know what the framework will be so municipalities can start working on bylaws.
‘We can start to do that based on public pronouncements from government, but it won’t actually all come into place until the legislation has passed the legislative assembly,” he said.
Police are also awaiting Saskatchewan’s pot rules. Saskatchewan Association of Police Chiefs president, Chief Marlo Pritchard, said they have questions that need answers. Pritchard said some of the main policing questions are how rules for home grown marijuana will be enforced, where it will be sold and how to enforce impaired driving.
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Enforcement of these regulations will require police training. Pritchard is confident Saskatchewan police will get up to speed, just not necessarily in time for the planned legalization date of July 1, 2018.
“It’s going to be a significant change. Will we get everybody trained in every organization? Probably not. But we are going to do our best to get that done. We’ll still be prepared,” Pritchard said.
Attorney General and Justice Minister Don Morgan said rules around legal marijuana are coming. A government official told Global News on Tuesday not everything has to be done by legislation.
“Some of the things would deal with marketing and how we might go forward with it, and some other ministers will have some announcements as we go forward,” Morgan said.
Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Nova Scoita and Prince Edward Island are the only Canadian jurisdictions that have not introduced marijuana regulations.
Regardless of when the framework or legislation comes, Saskatchewan will be one of the final jurisdictions in Canada to publically unveil their rules. Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Nunavut also need to unveil their legislation.
So far, Saskatchewan has conducted a survey asking residents how they want to see marijuana regulated and received over 36,000 responses.
New zero-tolerance rules for drug impaired driving have already been introduced. This legislation also allows for use of future roadside marijuana tests, such as a cheek swab.
Legislation governing marijuana use in rental properties was introduced Tuesday.
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On Nov. 16, Morgan heavily alluded to Saskatchewan favouring a private retail model for selling and distributing recreational marijuana.
“We do not want to be in the ownership or marketing. We want to be responsible for ensuring that there is a regulatory scheme in place,” Morgan said.
“We don’t want to own it, market it, or warehouse it ourselves.”