Nova Scotia

Province tight-lipped on how legal pot might be taxed

Federal legislation to legalize marijuana is expected this summer, but the Nova Scotia government says it will wait to see it before making decisions at the provincial level.

Lawmakers also grappling with issues like impaired driving and where marijuana will be sold

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana, and his government plans to get started this spring. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Nova Scotia's justice minister is waiting on the federal government to table its marijuana legalization law before making any decisions at the provincial level, while the province's finance minister is staying tight-lipped about how, or even if, pot will be taxed.

Justice Minister Diana Whalen said certain choices relating to the issue are under the purview of the province, including where legalized pot would be sold and how old someone has to be to buy it.

She said legislators are still "grappling" with some of the "big questions" raised by the legalization of marijuana. 

"We know how we handle drinking and driving. How do we handle people who have used marijuana and are driving, are impaired?" she said.

"So we have some big questions that we are dealing with, doing research and getting the best information available, and I think maybe after that's gathered, that's a good time for the public to speak."

Diana Whalen says certain decisions relating to pot legalization are under the purview of the province. (CBC)

No decision yet on where it will be sold

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the marijuana legislation should be ready by the summer.

Whalen said once that happens, the provinces will have time to "finalize where we stand."

In terms of where it will be sold, Whalen said options include through the NSLC or independent retail locations.

She said an important part of making decisions on pot at the provincial level will be consulting with the other Atlantic provinces on their plans. 

"It's important to look at what our neighbours are doing. What are the rules going to be in Atlantic Canada? Particularly in the Maritimes because again, as we've seen with alcohol sales, it creates different rules in different provinces," she said.

"Where we're so close by you may have a preference to go to New Brunswick, for example, or New Brunswick people to come here."

How will it be taxed? 

Nova Scotia Finance Minister Randy Delorey would not say Thursday if, or how, the province plans to tax legal marijuana. 

"Until the federal government makes their decision we're not in a position to make any comments on that," he said. 

Randy Delorey said the province will wait to decide on how to tax legalized marijuana. (CBC)

Whalen said provincial representatives, such as Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, Dr. Robert Strang, and members of the provincial Justice Department, are involved in marijuana legalization working groups at the federal level.

With files from Jean Laroche