Sask. only province in Canada without plan for legal pot
Economist says some provinces jumped the gun
As the legalization of recreational marijuana draws closer, the Saskatchewan government has yet to unveil its plan to regulate the sale and use of pot.
So far, every other province and territory, aside from Nunavut, has put forward a proposed plan as to how recreational marijuana will be sold, licensed and distributed.
When asked when the province will be unveiling a plan on pot, the government of Saskatchewan said it could not provide a specific timeline for when legislation and regulations will be announced, but said it "is working to ensure the province is ready for July 2018."
With six months to go until July 1, municipalities are looking for answers as to what cannabis legalization will look like and what bylaws will need to be brought in.
The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) is urging the provincial government to release information.
SUMA president Gordon Barnhart said without the go-ahead from the province, its impossible for municipalities to prepare bylaws in time.
"We don't know, for example, the age that will be required, or the method sale, or the method of production," said Barnhart.
"If we had some indication as to what the plans are, municipalities could at least start putting the pieces together."
Barnhart said municipalities must know where cannabis will be sold and how close the stores can be to other retailers. He said myriad zoning issues are presented.
Will extra time mean a better plan?
University of Regina economics professor Jason Childs said due to the upcoming policy's complexity, it is a time consuming exercise.
"We've got to think really hard about what we're trying to do here and we have to think really carefully about how we're going to meet those objectives," he said. "Provinces that have rolled out quickly, like New Brunswick, I think are likely to get it wrong."
Provinces that have rolled out quickly, like New Brunswick, I think are likely to get it wrong.- Jason Childs, U of R economics professor
"I think there is a really good chance that we do some things differently and put ourselves in a better position to achieve the policy objectives, not the least of which is eliminating the black market."
In New Brunswick, up to 20 government-run stores will be established at least 300 metres away from schools and customers will need to show identification to prove they are at least 19 to get in.
So far, Childs said the plans rolled out by the governments of B.C. and Alberta will likely be closest to hitting the mark, specifically because they are both taking advantage of the private sector to sell cannabis.
"Governments are not good at retail. They're really good at regulation, so let's let the government regulate and let the private sector meet consumer demand because that's what they're good at," Childs said.
Childs said other markers of success would be competitive pricing and having a range of products to meet consumer demands.