Legalizing pot a 'complex issue' that will be a challenge to implement, Notley says

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Meeting the July 2018 timeline for the legalization of recreational marijuana will be a challenge for Alberta, Premier Rachel Notley said Thursday shortly after the legislation was tabled in Ottawa.

"We're going to work very hard to meet those time limits and if we don't, we'll have to go back and say, 'You know what? We need more time,' " Notley told reporters at a news conference where she took questions prior to her 10-day trade mission to China and Japan. 

The federal government introduced the legislation regulating pot, allowing people to possess up to 30 grams of dried or fresh cannabis.

The provinces are responsible for deciding how the product will be distributed and whether the legal minimum age of 18 set by the federal legislation should be higher.

Notley said she wants to consult with Albertans on the issues.

"It's not a simple issue. It's maybe simple to say, 'Yeah, let's legalize marijuana.' Administering it is actually very complex, so we have a lot of work to do on it."

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said the timeline is ambitious but not impossible to meet. 

"If our impression of that changes, I think we can go back to the federal government and seek more time," Ganley said. 

She hopes to launch consultations this summer.

Ganley said the government wants to keep pot away from children, ensure criminals don't make money from cannabis sales, and keep impaired drivers off the roads. 

It's hard to say how much revenue taxation of cannabis will generate for the Alberta government, she said. The goal is to get illegal sources of marijuana into the legal market so the government doesn't want to tax it too heavily.

"We need to give a really careful look to ensuring we are not essentially pricing ourselves out of the market when we do that," she said. 

Last fall, Ganley travelled to Colorado to learn how state and law enforcement officials handled cannabis legalization in 2014.