Manitoba minister wants more time to legalize pot, says feds” 2018 goal “rushed”


OTTAWA — Manitoba”s finance minister says he”s feeling rushed by the Trudeau government”s July 2018 timeline for legalizing recreational marijuana, and he wants an extension.

Cameron Friesen says with the clock ticking there are still many unanswered questions on issues like public safety, enforcement and finding legal supplies of marijuana.

He says provinces are responsible for much of the work and the high costs needed to create a regulated cannabis market.

Friesen was speaking in Ottawa before a federal-provincial finance ministers meeting, which is exploring the issue of how to tax Canada”s forthcoming legal pot industry, among other things.

He says he mentioned the idea of an extension to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau — but didn”t reveal how much extra time he”s hoping for.

Provincial ministers are planning to push Ottawa to ensure they receive a share of pot-related tax revenue that fairly reflects the added costs provinces will have to assume on the road to legalization.

For Friesen, the Trudeau government”s implementation date is an important issue.

“In respect of a July 1, 2018, deadline, we”re concerned and we”ll express that upstairs — it feels rushed,” Friesen said before heading into the meeting.

“This is a very significant shift in how we”ll operate and we need to have that adequate time to develop the tools that we will need as a province to be able to implement this the correct way.”

He also noted that a cannabis working group has been assessing the next steps on key issues like taxation, consumption, sobriety tests and public awareness campaigns.

“We can”t have a half-baked cake here,” Friesen said. “We have to make sure that all of this analysis is done.”

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