Albertans will be consulted before pot rules set by province: Premier Rachel Notley

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Albertans will be consulted by the province before rules around where marijuana can be bought, sold and used roll out pending legalization next July, Premier Rachel Notley said Monday.

"We're aware of all the issues, we haven't landed yet on the key decision factors because we need to consult with Albertans and we have to know exactly what the federal legislation looks like before we can figure out what our path looks like after that," she said.

"We will be working very furiously on it. There's no question we are concerned about ensuring the safety and health of young Albertans — and we're also concerned about ensuring we don't somehow kickstart another black market."

The Liberal government is expected to announce legislation next month that will legalize marijuana in Canada by July 1, 2018, an anonymous government official told CBC.

Under the new legislation, the federal government would be in charge of making sure the country's marijuana supply is safe and secure by licensing marijuana producers. 

However, provinces will have the right to decide how marijuana is distributed and sold. Provincial governments will also have the right to set prices and age of users.

"So we have to balance those issues, we also have to look at how we support addictions prevention as well as additional addictions treatment that might be forthcoming," said Notley. "So there's a lot of different issues and our attorney general is very seized of the matter."

Jeff Mooij, owner of the 420 Clinic in Calgary, said he wants to see the medical supply take precedence over recreational use to ensure patients with legitimate needs will be able to access it.

"[Cannabidiol] crops are non-euphoric, they're a different type of crop entirely and if we don't protect those, they're not going to grow them because they can't keep up with the recreational side," he said.

THC is the active compound in marijuana that gives users a euphoric sensation, while CBD, another active compound in the plant, offers medicinal effects without the 'high.'

"So all these big marijuana companies that are on the stock market now, they're going to have to start talking about making their shares worth something now, and if it comes down to selling medical or recreational, they'll sell recreational every single time because they can sell it all."

Mooij figures recreational demand could outstrip production within the first month of legalization.

"I'm really concerned if we don't protect the medical side, it won't be there."

Mooij said he expects the rules around marijuana to vary across the country.

"We already do for alcohol, right, so we'll have the same thing, every province is going to be different," he said. "It's 15 months away from now but it might be three or four months away from the legalization date before we'll know everything, which is crazy."

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