June 19, 2017 10:52 pm

Alberta finance minister says province to be prepared for legalized pot by 2018 deadline despite outstanding tax questions

WATCH ABOVE: Some videos from Global News' ongoing coverage of the marijuana legalization process in Canada.


With at least one province pushing the Trudeau government for an extension on the deadline for having regulations in place once marijuana is legalized in Canada, Alberta’s finance minister says his province is “going to be ready,” even though there are still significant details to be worked out.

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“We’ve been already working very hard in Alberta – the Solicitor General and justice minister and health services have been focused on this,” Joe Ceci said after a meeting with his counterparts from other provinces and federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Ottawa on Monday.

“We have people focused on the end date that’s been identified by the federal government. So we are following through what we need to do to be prepared for that date.”

READ MORE: City of Edmonton works to put pot plan in place with legalization looming

Watch below: On March 14, 2017, Vinesh Pratap filed this report about the day recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada inching closer. At Edmonton City Hall, the looming development was being talked about that week.

Ceci acknowledged, however, that Alberta still has to work out a number of outstanding issues, including one unique to the prairie province: the legalization process being hampered by Alberta’s lack of a provincial sales tax.

“Without a provincial sales tax, we need to ensure that we receive adequate monies to address the costs of having cannabis available for distribution and sale in our province – whether that’s on the health side or the enforcement side or education side,” he told reporters. “So we’re going to look at how to make that happen.

“Other provinces have anywhere from five, to eight to more per cent more added on top of the GST and we don’t have that so we’re going to be looking at ways to ensure that we receive the provincial revenue necessary to address these issues.”

READ MORE: Different takes for different provinces as Canada moves to legalize pot

Ceci also said the provinces need to work together with Ottawa to craft a taxation model that is “similar or harmonious” across the country to ensure Alberta does not become “seen as a a place to go for cannabis.”

According to Morneau, ministers at Monday’s meeting agreed marijuana taxation should stay low to avoid creating a black market for pot. However, the federal finance minister said how tax revenues will be shared between provinces and Ottawa is yet to be determined.

Provincial finance ministers have indicated they plan to push Ottawa for a share of tax revenue from pot that reflects the costs provinces will incur as a result of the legalization process.

Manitoba’s finance minister, Cameron Friesen, said he felt rushed by Ottawa’s timeline to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018 but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested his government would not bend to extension demands.

READ MORE: Timeline for legal pot is too short: Manitoba minister

“We gave everybody lots of time,” Trudeau said in Ottawa. “We’ve been working for a long time with all the provinces, with the municipalities… It’s time for us to move forward on this.”

“Alberta’s working as quickly as we can to be prepared,” Ceci told reporters. “We’re engaging with our citizens at this point in time and finding out more about what they think we need to do in terms of distribution throughout the province – so the models that they would support.”

READ MORE: Feds should set THC limits in legal pot to protect Canadian youth, doctors say

After Monday’s meeting, Morneau indicated that in provinces that aren’t ready by the “fixed date,” consumers would be able to buy marijuana through a federally licensed producer and receive home delivery.

-with files from The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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