The provincial government has begun to amp its plans for when the federal cannabis legislation comes into effect next year by July 1.
The Alberta Government is currently conducting a survey asking Albertans how they would like to see cannabis use and distribution be implemented in this province.
Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley said July 1, 2018 is an ambitious timeline, however this provincial survey – which has already had over 35,000 respondents – will help provincial legislation reflect the values of Albertans.
“The decision to legalize was ultimately made by the federal government, but the provincial government will have to make a bunch of surrounding decisions,” Ganley said.
“We want to ensure the views and values of Albertans are reflected in how we go about legalizing. We are excited that this had good uptake so far and I think the more input we can get, the better.”
The survey covers much of the federal legislation, with the purpose of survey being to discover cannabis goals in Alberta; to establish guidelines around the purchase of cannabis; to establish where it will be acceptable to use cannabis in public settings; to establish a legal age for use; to ensure that roads and workplaces are safe and to discover the economic implications and opportunities within the legalization of cannabis.
“It is still open until the 31st of July and I encourage everyone to participate,” Ganley said.
The timeline is something Ganley believes is workable for the provincial government.
“It is important we have a model in place that represents the values of Albertans and we are proceeding on the basis that that is the timeline,” she said.
“Sometimes you have ambitious deadlines and we will move ahead in order to make sure everything is rolled out in an appropriate way.”
The method of cannabis distribution and use in Alberta will be based on what is discovered through this survey and through stakeholder round-table meetings, sector-specific meetings and surveys at public venues across Alberta.
“It will depend on a couple of different things,” Ganley said.
“It will depend on some of the decisions on how restrictive it is and who is doing the sale of it. A lot of that will depend on the feedback we get back from our survey and then hopefully we will have more to say about it in the fall in terms of what we heard and where we are going generally.”
While many people throughout Canada and other jurisdictions where cannabis prohibition has been relaxed have voiced that this could alleviate problems within the justice system, Ganley remained cautious.
“There will be some matters that come out of the justice system as a result of this,” she said.
“I don’t think our numbers indicate that it will have a huge impact. Really what will be taken out is simple possession charges, because there are still going to be trafficking charges if you are trafficking to minors.
“There is some question as to whether we will see more impaired charges as well as a result.”
Ganley also addressed the issue of taxation, saying ending organized crime cannabis trafficking is more important then heavy taxation.
“Our initial projections don’t really indicate that there will be a huge revenue stream,” she said.
“There is obviously some revenue associated but you have to be careful where you set the taxation levels because ultimately a large part of goal of this enterprise is to get rid of the illegal market so that we don’t have that gang activity surrounding it.
“In order to do that, we can’t price ourselves out of the market. Our initial projections are not showing super high revenue and there will be some costs in terms of public education campaigns and that sort of thing.”
Albertans can take the cannabis survey at alberta.ca/cannabis.
“Ultimately, this was a decision by the federal government but it is definitely coming and it is coming quite quickly,” Ganley said.
“I think all Albertans should take an interest in the society they live in and be willing to share their opinions and thoughts in order so we can create a province that is reflective of the values of all Albertans.”