Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is rallying support among his provincial and territorial counterparts to demand the federal government hit the brakes on its plan to legalize pot.
Pallister, who is attending the Council of the Federation meetings in Edmonton, said there are questions that must be answered before the “historic change” is brought into force. He wants to delay the implementation by one year.
“I think that there are too many unaddressed issues that need to be paid attention to for us to hurry into something like this, (given) the magnitude of this,” he said.
The federal government has said it plans to pass legislation legalizing cannabis, which was tabled this spring, by July 2018.
A spokesman for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told CBC News last week that target remains, and that people living in provinces where distributors are not yet in place by that time will have access to recreational pot by mail delivery.
Pallister said provinces need more time to ensure proper roadside testing is in place to keep drug-impaired drivers off the roads, and to educate the public about the perils of getting behind the wheel high.
“These are not well understood. For us to rush into this, we’re putting tremendous risks at play, we’re also putting tremendous costs into the provinces’ hands,” he said.
Pallister also believes there should be a standard age for legal access to cannabis across Canada, instead of the “hodgepodge” that now exists for alcohol across the country.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the group will have further discussions on legalized pot tomorrow, but said their provinces are working towards meeting the July 2018 deadline.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said his province would not object to an extension.
“There’s a lot of moving parts here,” he said.
He said it will be difficult to pull off standardized rules around labelling, road safety and age of access across the country in such a short period of time.