High finance: Marijuana advocate says legal pot could be boon for N.L.'s economy

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High finance: Marijuana advocate says legal pot could be boon for N.L.'s economy

A St. John's marijuana advocate says legal pot could help Newfoundland and Labrador's ailing economy.

Gideon Barker told CBC's Here & Now that the province should be ready to explore opportunities provided by the federal government's plan to legalize marijuana by July 2018.

"We're in a very bad financial state so this could be something that could really turn us around economically, if it's done properly," he said.

"The thing is, judging by the way things are politically right now, it's hard to put some solid faith that things are going to be done properly."

"But if legislation comes down, and they're able to actually work with it, preferably they get a plan set in stone before the actual date of legislation comes down. So we can just roll through and have it be much smoother than it's likely going to be."

Barker said he the federal government is going to come up with a basic framework for legalization and leave the provinces to pick up the slack.

"I think that's good and bad, because it leaves a lot of grey area there for something to be screwed up and something to fall between the cracks," he said.

Distribution through dispensaries

One positive, Barker said, is that the federal government will be responsible for safety guidelines — which means there won't be different rules in every province.

Barker said marijuana should, ideally, be sold through dispensaries spread across the province.

"It's a great opportunity for the entrepreneurial spirit to come through," he said. "There's a lot of potential business able to be had here."

But that aspect raises its own challenges for implementation.

"You can't have them close to school zones, you can't have them close to areas where children are going to be, such as parks, which of course makes sense," he said. "But it's a matter of how are they going to put this down, and who is actually going to be able to enforce it."