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Pot will top agenda at justice minister meeting in Vancouver

Last Updated Sep 14, 2017 at 7:48 am PST

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Summary

Federal justice minister in Vancouver to meet with her provincial counterparts

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The federal justice minister is in Vancouver, and pot will be a hot topic as she sits down with her provincial counterparts during a two-day meeting focusing on justice and public safety.

It’s certainly something BC Solicitor General Mike Farnworth wants to talk about.

“From British Columbia’s perspective, we’ll have have — I hope — a stronger sense of where the federal government is at, what the federal government is looking at in terms of potential rules and regulations, and the issues surrounding impaired driving,” he tells the Canadian Press.

“But for me, one of the other big issues is what’s happening with the provinces. Where are they at in terms of their processes? Because there are a number of issues where we probably want to ensure there is some sort of uniformity right across the country.”

Last week, Ontario was the first province to reveal its plans for legal recreational weed, which include its sale at stores run by the provincial liquor board.

The federal government has faced criticism for a seemingly hands-off approach so far to regulating the sale and policing of marijuana once it becomes legal in July 2018 and political reporter Justin Ling with VICE News expects heads will butt at the Vancouver meeting.

“Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould will face questions from all sides. You’re going to hear from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and potentially Yukon and the other territories asking her to bump back the date of legalization because the provinces feel like they need more time,” he tells NEWS 1130.

“You’re probably also going to hear more funding requests with the provinces saying their police forces can’t handle the sudden about face and the new regulatory burden of dealing with the legal market.”

Earlier this week, a number of police chiefs warned the House of Commons there was no chance their forces would be ready to enforce Canada’s new pot laws by the time they’re set to be passed next July.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responded by describing the government’s timetable as reasonable.

“There’s definitely going to be varying opinions at the meeting, but it is fair to say the government has been hands off,” adds Ling.

“That is exactly what they are trying to be, leaving the provinces to deal with the nitty gritty of how this whole thing will work.”