Five Things to consider about the Liberal government’s plan to legalize pot

Legal pot in Canada: Five things to consider

OTTAWA — The Liberal government introduced long-awaited legislation Thursday to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but many of the finer points and logistical questions remain unanswered or up in the air. Here are five of them:

1.What happens if a U.S. border guard asks if you have ever smoked marijuana? Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale was asked that question — whether the Liberal government had sought assurances from the U.S. that someone who admitted to using cannabis legally would not face the same fate. Each country sets its own rules, said Goodale, but he suggested Canada might get on the phone if it became a big deal. “If there appears to be a pattern of examination at the border that just does not accord with appropriate, professional, reliable, consistent conduct, then obviously that’s the sort of thing that we should raise at a governmental level to make sure people are treated appropriately.” Canada, he added, would also “make the very strong point” that its new legal regime would be better at protecting children and keeping illegal cash away from organized crime. “Our system will actually be the better one.”

2. How much will it cost and will you be charged GST? The bill does not include any information on how pot will be priced or taxed, as much of that will be left to the provinces. Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, acknowledged getting the price right will be key to reducing the role of organized crime on the market. There was no direct answer to a question on whether cannabis customers will have to pay a federal sales tax. National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said discussions are underway. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that any revenues from the taxation of marijuana should be directed to addiction treatment, mental health services and public health education — initiatives Goodale said would be a key priority. “We recognize our obligation to make sure that this regime is properly financed and properly supported to make sure it is effective.”

3. How old do you have to be to buy marijuana? The new law would set the national minimum age to legally buy cannabis at 18 years old, but it will be up to the provinces as to whether they restrict it further. The marijuana task force led by former Liberal justice minister Anne McLellan had acknowledged provinces and territories would likely harmonize it with the age limit they currently have in place for alcohol and tobacco. When Wilson-Raybould was asked whether there was anything to stop provinces from setting the age limit as high as they want, she suggested they might face constitutional challenges. “In any jurisdiction where a law has passed that a citizen deems unfair, we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” she said.

4. What will the packaging look like? The marijuana task force had recommended plain packaging — devoid of any real branding — that would list only the name of the company, the strain of cannabis, the price, the levels of THC and CBD and warnings. Those specifics are not in the bill, but the proposed legislation does give the government the authority to bring in regulations on packaging, advertising and other practices. The bill does say, however, that it would be against the law to sell cannabis in a package, or with a label, that could be interpreted as being appealing to children and youth. It will also be illegal to include endorsements, testimonials or feature a person, animal or other character.

5. Will you be able to buy pot brownies at the store? No, or at least not yet. The new legislation would allow adults to buy fresh and dried cannabis, as well as seeds and plants to grow at home. Other products, such as cannabis-infused edibles like cookies, lollipops or honey would remain out of reach until the federal government develops and implements regulations for their production and sale. It is not yet known whether those future regulations will allow the sale of candies. Meanwhile, anyone who wants to use legally purchased or cultivated cannabis bake their own batch of brownies, however, would be allowed to do so.

— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter

 

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Performing Arts Centre gets extension

Penticton City Council gives group an extension for arts centre lot

Inmate suing Okanagan Correctional over alleged assault

Inmate claims an officer grabbed him by the throat and threw him onto the bed

Indigenous hockey legend skates through Oliver

Multiple record-holder Reggie Leach attended an event honouring old Indigenous hockey players

Uber official says public needs to push for ridesharing in B.C.

Mike van Hemmen tells Kelowna Chamber of commerce ridesharing would be ‘win-win-win’

Future of Penticton the talk of the town

The city’s PenTALKton event drew a strong crowd and a large social media presence

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

An adopted cat is the best 10 pounds you’ll gain this season

BC SPCA encouraging families to add a forever feline friend during adoption event Nov. 24 to Dec. 3

B.C. co-ops relieved with Ottawa’s housing strategy

Federal government to have a new co-operative housing funding model in place by 2020

Letter to the editor: Missing woman’s parents appreciate search effort

To take part in the banner drop, poster distribution and the drone… Continue reading

B.C. NDP referendum plan sparks legislature battle

David Eby says public will decide on proportional referendum

Hammy has been freed of his threads, a purple antler remains

The iconic Prince Rupert buck with a piece of hammock attached to his antlers was caught by COs

B.C. family advocating for drug decriminalization following death of son

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has noted the New Democrats would decriminalize personal possession of all drugs

Court adjourned again for man linked to Shuswap farm where human remains found

Curtis Sagmoen will appear back in court on Dec. 14

Public against wildfire monument in Kamloops

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District announced the monument to commemorate volunteers’ efforts

Most Read