Sask. government perturbed at feds' 'patchwork' pot proposal

The province says the federal government's plan to legalize marijuana by Canada Day 2018 leaves more questions than answers.

Province disappointed in lack of pan-Canadian approach to pot legalization

The provincial government says it is disappointed in the lack of a pan-Canadian approach to regulation of marijuana once it's legalized in July 2018. (Chris Corday/CBC)

The government of Saskatchewan is disappointed with the details — or lack thereof — surrounding the proposed legalization of marijuana next year. 

A statement from Premier Brad Wall's office said there are more questions than answers when it comes to regulation and enforcement of recreational pot use. CBC reported federal government sources said Ottawa would legalize marijuana by Canada Day 2018.

The premier's office expressed concern over the potential of a "patchwork approach" from the provinces which would provide difficulties for law enforcement.

The statement also dealt briefly with the issue of potential revenues from marijuana sales.

"We have not seen any analysis on potential revenue, as we anticipated that would be driven by whatever framework the federal government proposed," the statement said. 

The province is also relying on the federal government to pick up the tab when it comes to keeping roads safe from people who are high behind the wheel, whether that be new technology or additional officers. 

Bray highlighted concerns about drug impaired driving, noting there are no federally approved devices to help police like alcohol breathalyzers. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)

Regina Police Service chief Evan Bray says the early notice will give law enforcement time to identify key areas, such as driving, which will need to be addressed when pot is legal. 

Unlike breathalyzers, there are no federally approved machines to identify impairment from marijuana, he said. Bray said there are about a dozen officers trained to detect drug impairment in drivers.

"These officers right now are the only way we can bring testimony before the courts [to make a case against an impaired driver]," he said. 

Bray would also like to know just who is growing the pot. The governments know who is making which types of alcohol and there are regulations on it, Bray said. Home brew can't be mass produced and sold out of someone's home, for example.

Federal regulations are needed regarding its growth, production, manufacturing and quality control among other things, if it's going to be legally used by Canadians, he said.

Bray said there are no plans to add more officers to enforce pot regulations and hopes it doesn't come to that. 

"If we have to add officers to deal with then I think this has caused a bit more of a problem in the community than we anticipated," Bray said. 

Clear structure and guidelines would be paramount, he continued. 

"If there's ever a grey area, inevitably someone will find it and we're left to decipher and make a decision on it."

With files from Kendall Latimer