Policy challenges before pot legalisation next July: report

Next July, the marijuana market will be legal across the nation.

On Thursday, a group of six public policy researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and University of Regina (U of R) released a report on legalizing and regulating cannabis in Saskatchewan.

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Jerome Konecsni worked on the report and said the nearly 100-page document does a lot of leg work for the provincial government.

“It enables them to actually accelerate, cause they’re under a lot of time pressure, so having this kind of broad based assessment will really give them a head start,” Konecsni said.

In total, the report has 40 recommendations on policy and programming. It is based on the federal government’s three core objectives to legalize cannabis: restrict youth access, mitigate the illicit market and minimize harm.

The recommendations are divided into 10 categories which cover a wide range of topics from public education to policing resources.

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The report recommends the province have a limited number of private marijuana retailers, through a single distributor that tests, packages and tracks all products sold in the province.

There are 10 suggestions on how the market structure could work to optimize economic opportunity. It also recommends the legal age to use marijuana should match the legal age to consume alcohol.

“It becomes a level playing field. People aren’t going to choose one because of easier access to one over the other. If you’re trying to replace the illicit market with a legitimate market, then what you want to do is not have any policies that favour a direction in one way or another,” Konecsni said.

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The province said it hasn’t decided on a legal age yet.

“The people at Ministry of Justice are looking at not just the legislation that is coming, but also the various studies that have been done. There was the one that came from the U of R. We’ve had a brief look at that one, so all of those things are things we would want to look at,” Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan said.

“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, warehouse it ourselves.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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