Justice Minister Andrew Parsons won’t be anywhere near a pot retailer Wednesday when marijuana becomes legal across Canada.
That’s not on purpose.
It’s just that his duties require him to be in Port aux Basques Wednesday, where there currently is no sanctioned marijuana retailer.
But he’s anxious to visit a retailer as soon as he can.
“The next time I’m in the city, I’m looking forward to visiting one. I mean, you don’t spend two to three years of your life talking about something, preparing for something, working on something and then not go see what the finished product looks like,” he said. “I’m talking about the retail side of it. I didn’t say I was purchasing, but I’m looking forward to be going in and seeing what it all looks like — a marijuana store in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The use of cannabis for recreational purposes in the province will be restricted to private residences and will not be permitted in public places, in vehicles or in workplaces. Adults 19 and over will be allowed to have up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public. There are no restrictions on how much people can keep in their home, as long as it’s for personal use. Adults age 19 and over will be allowed to grow up to four plants per household.
While the majority of Canadians favour legalization of marijuana for recreational use, they also want to make sure the whole thing is done correctly. That means keeping it out of the hands of children, keeping high/impaired drivers off the roads, prohibiting consumption in public places and making sure the product is safe to consume.
Parsons says, from a justice point of view, the department and police forces in the province are as ready as they can be.
“I’m very confident where we are, but that’s not to be confused with the fact that this is a huge public policy issue, one of the biggest we’ve seen since Confederation, and the fact is, where we are this Wednesday and where we are next year are two different things,” he said.
“There’s going to be an evolution with this, and I’m sure there’s going to be bumps in the road, but from a public safety perspective I think we’ve done everything we can to be prepared, to be ready. I have full faith and confidence in our police forces. This is something that stretches across all government departments and it’s going to be a learning curve no doubt, but I’m comfortable with where we are and I’m prepared for Wednesday and the days thereafter.”
In Newfoundland and Labrador, retailers must obtain a licence from Cannabis NL, a division of the Newfoundland Liquor Corp. (NLC), to sell marijuana. As of Monday, there were more than 20 locations approved in the province. The hours of operation will be 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week, which is consistent with those applied to beer sales.
Any stores not sanctioned to sell marijuana and that attempt to sell come Wednesday will be subject to enforcement measures.
“The NLC has been regulating,” Parsons said. “If you are not sanctioned, you are not supposed to be selling it, and you will be dealt with according to the law.”