Nova Scotians will have their say on regulating pot, finance minister pledges
Public consultations likely to begin by late summer or early fall, says Karen Casey
It's time for Nova Scotians to have their say on how the province should handle the legal marijuana trade, says Karen Casey, the province's new minister of finance.
Ottawa has said pot will be legal by July 2018 and has told the provinces to be ready to roll out rules to regulate sales by then.
Casey was in Ottawa earlier this week to meet with Canada's other finance ministers to share ideas and talk about how prepared each province is to handle marijuana sales, distribution and taxes.
The former education minister admitted she didn't know much about the subject before her new cabinet appointment last week.
"Very little," she said in response to being asked how much she knew about marijuana legalization.
"I'm glad I was available to go. You learn a lot by talking and listening and I did more listening than talking but I did learn a lot."
Consulting the public
The issue has been kicked around inside government for months — most notably by officials in the departments of finance, health and justice — but Casey said that discussion should move outside the bureaucracy to include the public.
"That is really the priority for the three ministers right now — to look at how we do that consultation, when we do it and what questions we ask, what information we want to hear from the public."
Casey wasn't sure if Nova Scotia would hold public meetings or follow the example of neighbouring Newfoundland and Labrador by offering an online survey.
"We have to determine if that's the best way for us."
Casey is hoping the consultation can start as early as late summer or early fall.
As for how much weight what Nova Scotians say will carry with this government, Casey's only commitment was to "respect what Nova Scotians say."