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Province working on dealing with federal cannabis legalization bill

The federal government is planning to legalize cannabis by July 1, 2018.
The federal government is planning to legalize cannabis by July 1, 2018.

WINDSOR, N.S. – By July 1, 2018, cannabis, more widely known as marijuana, is expected to be a legal substance across Canada.

This means adults, with certain restrictions in place, will be able to toke up at their leisure without the fear of criminal charges.

How this new legal and commercial minefield will be rolled out largely rests with the provinces, and Nova Scotia is no different.

Who’s going to sell it, what the minimum age will be and where consumers can buy it still remains a mystery.

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice will have their hands full in the coming weeks and months to put together a plan.

In a statement, the department thanked the federal government for its work on legalization, adding that the minister and deputy minister have had a chance to speak with their federal counterparts on the matter.

“This is a significant policy shift led by the federal government and we will be taking time to review the details of the legislation tabled. We will have more to say next week following a meeting of our working group,” an emailed statement from the provincial justice department said.

The statement also said the department would focus on responsible and well-regulated use while minimizing the involvement of organized crime.

“We will be working to make sure that public health and safety remain a priority for Nova Scotia. Legalization of cannabis must ensure that the health and safety of children and youth are protected.”

The federal government made the announcement on April 13, 2017, emphasizing a strictly regulated product that will get the industry out of the black market.

“The current approach to cannabis does not work,” a federal government press release reads following the announcement. “It has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it is easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.”

The federal minimum age for purchasing of cannabis will be 18 years old, but it will ultimately be up to the provinces to determine the legal age in each jurisdiction.

Some medical professionals, including Ottawa’s Public Health Agency, believe the consumption of marijuana in people younger than 25 can have adverse effects on a developing brain.

The federal bill would also make it a specific criminal offence to sell cannabis to a minor and create significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related offences, according to a federal press release.   

Through the bill, the government is also strengthening drug and alcohol impaired-driving laws, giving crown prosecutors more teeth to deal with these cases.

New offences would be added to the Criminal Code to enforce a zero tolerance approach for those driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.

The government also says the proposed legislation would authorize new detection tools for police.

The release also says the federal government will invest resources within Health Canada, the RCMP, Canada Border Services and others to deal with the legalization of marijuana. For instance, it will be a serious offence to bring marijuana outside the country.

The federal government is also planning a “robust public awareness campaign” on the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.

The government will also share how they’re planning to tax the drug in the coming months.

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