Rule that pot users lock up the drug might be revisited, minister says
Uncertainty about weed-related risks led to requirement the drug be locked away, health minister says
The provincial government says it wants New Brunswickers to lock up their recreational pot when the drug becomes legal next year because the effects of consuming the drug are still not fully understood.
But the province would be open to revisiting the regulation down the road, once it gets used to handling the drug, Health Minister Benoît Bourque said Thursday at a technical briefing.
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Despite its uncertainty about the risks, New Brunswick has been among the first provinces to settle on a sales model and regulations for the recreational use of cannabis.
Five bills, including the Cannabis Control Act, amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act and New Brunswick Liquor Corporation Act, were introduced this week in preparation for the planned legalization of marijuana next July.
If the Cannabis Control Act passes as is, users could be charged if caught keeping their pot out in the open in their homes, instead of under lock and key.
But the province doesn't intend to have law enforcement officers knocking on people's doors to see if their weed is locked up, said officials at the briefing on cannabis regulation.
If police are in a home for another reason and notice marijuana that is not secure, a charge will be laid, they said.
Fear of the unknown
Bourque compared the lock-and-key provision to gun-control laws, an analogy also used by Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry, who was not at the briefing.
Asked why the government would require people to secure their cannabis but not alcohol or tobacco, Bourque said the latter two substances were products the province has been familiar with for decades.
"So the public has an idea of what these products do and the responsible way to handle them," he said.
Crown corporation named
The province also released the name of the new Crown corporation that will oversee the sale of recreational marijuana in the province: the Cannabis Management Corp.
The corporation will set the rules for how NB Liquor runs the retail side.
Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said the province has no plans to market the substance in the way alcohol is.
"I'll be honest, marketing is not part of the discussion at all," she said.
Asked if New Brunswickers can expect any advertising push in July 2018, even to say where stores will be and when they will open, Rogers said "that is definitely not the focus."
"I'm assuming the media will take care of that," Bourque added.