Legal recreational marijuana may have been pushed back to August or September, but that doesn’t mean local decision-makers don’t have a lot of work to do.
Calgary-based 420 Clinic has been working with health organizations, chambers of commerce, the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) in an attempt to answer lingering questions.
“We’re pro-cannabis but we do realize there will be an impact, both good and bad for the legalization of cannabis,” 420 Clinic president & CEO Jeff Mooij said.
420 Clinic currently works on the medicinal side, but they aim to open retail locations across Alberta.
Municipalities across Saskatchewan are creating local rules, while the provincial government waits to find out what communities may opt-out of having dispensaries.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) is offering up to 60 dispensary permits in 40 communities with more than 2,500 people.
There are still many questions as the provincial government works to determine rules for Saskatchewan, including a minimum age.
With this uncertainty, Mooij said 420 Clinic is looking to help dispel myths about cannabis and provide fact-based evidence gathered from states such as Colorado.
420 Clinic met with SARM late last week, and president Ray Orb says they received helpful information.
“We learned a lot, how that would affect young people’s minds, and I know there’s been a lot of debate over that,” Orb said.
“We noted that the Canadian Medical Association had recommended that the minimum age be 25 years old.”
In addition to talking about the effects of smoked marijuana versus edible marijuana, Mooij and his team are sharing what retail pot will look like.
“We won’t have in the future retail large bags of cannabis or anything else. It’ll be tight little jars, sealed childproof containers,” he said.
However, there are answers Mooij can’t provide groups like SARM. Questions surrounding the cost of rural policing still need to be answered. In Regina, it is estimated it will cost the police service at least $1.2 million.
“The province has alleviated some of those concerns by saying there is federal money available specifically for police training. We’re not sure how that’s going to play out yet,” Orb said.
In Saskatchewan, a consistent theme from all levels of government is that the timeline for legalization is fast. Mooij says that concern is justified, as there is a lot of misinformation out there and many local decision makers have had a hard time finding facts.
“We don’t provide them a lot of information or background for them to make an educated decision in the first place. We need to make that happen,” he said.
“It needs to happen on the retail level if we can’t do it on the provincial level in this short period of time that we have.”
Municipalities in Saskatchewan have until February 28 to tell the SLGA if they want to opt out of having permits for pot shops.
Orb expects that marijuana revenue sharing with the province and how best to deal with impairment will be significant conversation topics at SARM’s upcoming convention. The annual event runs from March 13-16 in Regina.