Categorized | Canadian Politics

Wynne says Ottawa providing ‘clarity’ on weed

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

Things are a little less hazy now. The Ontario government, which has a Cannabis Secretariat gearing up for legalized recreational marijuana next year, is welcoming “clarity” from Ottawa.

Things are a little less hazy now.

The Ontario government, which has a Cannabis Secretariat gearing up for legalized recreational marijuana next year, is welcoming “clarity” from Ottawa.

But in the wake of the federal-provincial finance ministers’ meeting on weed, Premier Kathleen Wynne says it is still too early to say how and where it will be sold here in the province once it is legal on July 1, 2018.

“We’re looking at different options. Nothing has been finalized,” Wynne said Tuesday.

The provincial secretariat made up of officials from 12 departments is studying a myriad of issues, including where recreational marijuana should be sold.

Wynne has always maintained that Queen’s Park will have some role in the distribution and regulation of cannabis, though she has moved away from previous musings about it being available at LCBO stores.

However, the illegal cash-only “dispensaries” that still exist on many Toronto streets will almost certainly be prohibited once the province determines its retail model.

“You will know that the work that’s being done on our government is focused on protection of people,” the premier told reporters at Amazon Canada’s headquarters on Bremner St.

 “Protection of young people, protection of the vulnerable, and answering questions about safety — like road safety — and so we’ll continue to do that work,” she said.

On Monday, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau emphasized to his provincial counterparts that the July 1, 2018 deadline was firm — a move welcomed by Wynne.

“We have more clarity now from the federal government on what they will be doing as of July 1, 2018 and we needed to know that, we needed to understand that. We’re working with them to work within that timeframe.”

Wynne noted cannabis will be high on the agenda for discussion at next month’s annual Council of the Federation meeting in Edmonton.

“We won’t have a final (retail) model, but certainly I expect that the conversation around the table will be about the work that we’re doing and what we are thinking and I will certainly be willing to share the thoughts that we’re having,” she said.

Morneau said Monday that tax rates on cannabis should be kept low to avoid encouraging weed users from buying black market products.

“What’s the taxation level that actually has that impact? We didn’t get to a conclusion on rates today. What we did talk about was the fact that revenues shouldn’t be our driving goal,” he said.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa pointed out that any tax bonanza would have to pay the costs of the new reality of legal weed, including road safety, public health, and education programs.

“We have yet to flesh that out, but it’s certainly something we want to make certain is accommodated as we proceed,” Sousa told the Star’s Bruce Campion-Smith.

Last November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s task force on cannabis urged that any taxes are “high enough to limit the growth of consumption, but low enough to compete effectively with the illicit market.”

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