As the Select Committee on Cannabis begins its province-wide tour of public consultations, questions about what a post-legal marijuana landscape would look like are dominating opening talks.
The Committee, made up of five Liberal and three Progressive Conservative MLAs, heard from several presenters at the initial day of discussion including various officials as well as residents of Grand Falls.
The process of hearing from the public before drafting their recommendations to government comes on the heels of a similar report prepared by a working group.
Opposition MLA and committee member Ross Wetmore indicated after the hearing broke that the goal of the day was to go through the report so it could be fine tuned, but they were receiving more questions than answers.
“People aren’t really commenting on the report,” he said. “They’re bringing up questions that they’re really concerned about.
“I’m really concerned that people just have no idea on what’s going on.”
Wetmore argues that without a hard stance on the working group recommendationsm receiving the kind of information they’re seeking might be difficult through the planned consultations.
“We’ve got the cart before the horse right now,” Wetmore said. “The government I think should’ve come out with some really strong recommendations and then people would have the opportunity to ask.”
Kent South MLA and chair of the Select Committee Benoit Bourque was dismissive of Wetmore’s charges.
“I personally thought it went very, very well,” he said. “To me, raising questions is as healthy and productive as coming up with opinions.”
Those presenting included a city planning director, a local police officer, as well as a retired NB Liquor employee.
Bourque says the point of the consultations is to gather as much information as possible from a number of sources and that expert opinions aren’t the only discussion of value to the committee.
“We’re recording not only the opinions but the questions as well so these questions are to be taken into account,” he explained. “I think it’s very healthy and I think it’s good and it brought a wide spectrum of ideas.”
Meetings continue until the end of the month, wrapping up on July 28 in Fredericton.
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