19 is legal age for pot in Saskatchewan
Province releases details of Saskatchewan's cannabis legalization plan
When recreational marijuana is legalized in Saskatchewan, you will have to be 19 or older to legally consume or purchase it.
On Wednesday, the province released the remainder of its framework around cannabis legalization, including details about the legal age of consumption and information on where people will be able to purchase pot.
Justice Minister Don Morgan said there were differing opinions around the caucus table and in broader consultations about what the minimum age for cannabis consumption should be. He noted age 19 kept cannabis in line with current restrictions around alcohol.
"It would have been a challenge to use 23, or 25, or a later age," Morgan said. "We were afraid that it would make it easier for the black market."
Key details in Saskatchewan's cannabis legalization plan include:
- 19 will be the minimum legal age of consumption for cannabis.
- Limit of four cannabis plants per household.
- Limit of 30 grams of cannabis per consumer.
- 51 retail cannabis permits available in 32 communities.
Saskatchewan is the last province to unveil its plan to handle cannabis legalization.
"Premier Wall, before his departure, felt it was not a decision that he wanted to make or have a significant role in. He said this is something that should be a process determined by the new premier, or the next premier, so that's what we've done," Morgan explained.
He also said the province's request to Ottawa to push back the timeline for legalization still stands and that he welcomes any delays caused by the holdup of the federal bill in the senate.
The province has yet to decide on a price for pot. Morgan deferred that decision until the upcoming budget.
Penalties for minors
The province is laying down rules that will prohibit consumption of pot in public places, like schools and daycares, citing public health concerns.
Legislation will also be introduced to prohibit the possession of pot by people under the minimum legal age, according to the government.
It states possession of more than five grams will result in a criminal offence under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, while possession of smaller amounts will be dealt with through ticketing and seizure of the drugs.
"We felt it was appropriate to have penalties and sanctions that were there, but we have to recognize that these are young people and didn't want to be onerous to the point that we imposed a serious criminal record on somebody," Morgan explained, saying they wanted to strike a balance by introducing administrative penalties.
As far as driving goes, the province says it will be taking a zero tolerance approach for drug-impaired driving, similar to what's in place for alcohol impaired driving.
5 municipalities opt-out
In Saskatchewan, cannabis will be sold by private retailers and the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority will issue roughly 60 permits in municipalities and three First Nations around the province.
Of the 37 municipalities eligible to sell pot, five decided to opt-out: Pilot Butte, Biggar, Kindersley White City and Shellbrook.
The SLGA said it will dole out permits through a two-phase selection process, with the first screening for financial capacity and inventory requirements. Then, retailers that are successful in the first stage will be selected through a random lottery.
Applications for a permit begin in April, with the hopes to have it finished by June 1.
Retailers will have to apply through a tendering process, having to complete a request for proposals.
A $1,000 non-refundable fee is required for each submission. It will cost $5,000 for a retail permit in cities and $3,500 in towns.
Morgan said this year, will be a "trial year" for pot, saying it's not being budgeted for in the upcoming fiscal year — a move Nicole Sarauer, NDP justice and SLGA critic, slammed as poor planning by the government.
Sarauer also voiced concerns some small businesses could be shut out of the stress test in the RFP process.
If successful, retailers will have one year from the date of legalization to open up a standalone store, limited to selling marijuana and marijuana accessories.
As with private liquor stores, SLGA will regulate wholesaling and retailing.