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Saskatchewan tables marijuana rules; legal age to be set at 19
Kevin Menz and Katherine Hill, CTV Saskatchewan
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2018 2:24PM CST
Last Updated Friday, March 16, 2018 5:02PM CST
Saskatchewan's government has set the legal age for recreational marijuana usage at 19.
The provincial government announced the rule alongside a handful of other marijuana regulations in legislation tabled Wednesday.
"We decided this kept us in line with what the age for consumption and possession of alcohol was, and that seemed to be the direction that most of the provinces were going," Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said.
"It would have been a challenge to use 23 or 25 or a later age. We were afraid that it would make it easier for the black market to be established at the lower ages.”
Recreational marijuana use is expected to be legalized in Canada this year — a final Senate vote on Bill C-45 is set for June 7 — but not all rules surrounding the drug will be federally legislated. Ottawa has left some regulations up to the provinces and territories.
Saskatchewan’s framework will prohibit marijuana consumption in public spaces, include a “zero tolerance” policy on drug-impaired driving, introduce rules prohibiting possession by minors and limit home production to four plants per household, in addition to the age restriction of 19 years old. The framework will also follow federal rules by restricting allowed maximum public possession amounts for legal-aged consumers to 30 grams.
The regulations surrounding possession by minors, which the province says will be introduced as legislation, will allow criminal charges to be laid against anyone under the legal age and in possession of more than five grams. Minors holding less than five grams will likely be ticketed, under the rules.
The Opposition’s Nicole Sarauer said after the announcement the government took too long figuring out a plan for marijuana legalization.
“They’ve known this has been coming for a while now and they’ve been failing to consult the people they should be consulting,” the NDP MLA said.
Saskatchewan is the last of Canada’s 10 provinces to announce its minimum age for legal use. Seven provinces have already stated 19 will be their legal ages, while Alberta and Quebec have announced 18 will be their minimum ages.
Sarauer said the NDP agrees with a legal age of 19, but noted the Opposition is concerned about enforcement, possession and retail permits.
Gene Makowsky, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, said a price for cannabis is likely to be suggested by the Crown agency from time to time. Finding the proper price will be a delicate balancing act, he said.
"You'll want to find that spot where you want to get rid of the black market, but you don't want to make it so cheap as to ... make it that much more available, particularly to young people," Makowsky said. "We don't know at this point what the exact price will be."
Once legalized, marijuana will only be sold in Saskatchewan through private businesses with a permit. Fifty-one permits are available in 32 communities, according to the province.
Retailers will have to pass a "good character" test similar to that required for alcohol sales, and, according to Makowsky, will be allowed to purchase cannabis from out-of-province suppliers.
--- with files from The Canadian Press