Manitoba

Organized crime will get edge on legalized pot, Manitoba premier says

Premier Brian Pallister thinks gangs and organized crime will get the upper hand on controlling sales of pot once marijuana is legalized for recreational use next year.

The federal government is legalizing cannabis by July 2018, but Brian Pallister says Manitoba isn't ready

Manitoba doesn't have enough time to prepare for the federal government's deadline on pot legalization, Premier Brian Pallister says. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

Premier Brian Pallister thinks gangs and organized crime will get the upper hand on controlling sales of pot once marijuana is legalized for recreational use next year.

That's because the federal government is requiring provinces to lay bare all of their plans by publicly outlining how they plan to sell and regulate pot.

"The business plan's going to be laid out for the whole country, in front of the gangs and organized crime who are your principal competitors," the Manitoba premier said.

"They're going to know your entire business plan and you're not ready. It doesn't make sense, but we're moving ahead as best we can to get ready."

The federal government is leaving it up to the provincial and territorial governments to implement their own laws once legalization occurs in 2018.

Pallister has repeatedly stated, and did so again  Monday, that the process is moving forward too quickly, leaving Manitoba without enough time to prepare for the federal deadline.

"I've been very clear about my view on the imposition of those deadlines," he said. "I think it's dangerous to impose those deadlines.

"This is a multi-faceted issue, it hits almost every department of government. It's complex and this is, in part, the reason that I've suggested we shouldn't be rushing into it."

Pallister also cites concerns about the expected increase in people driving while high, pointing to recent data from cities in the United States where medicinal marijuana has been legalized.

According to a report from The Denver Post, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has more than doubled since 2013.

"They're shocking [and] Washington has similar results, so that really concerns me," Pallister said. "It concerns me that lives will be lost unnecessarily because we haven't really adequately prepared."

He plans to release some preliminary results on Wednesday from the public budget consultations, including a section that deals with the sale of legalized pot.

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