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Oct. 17 is Cannabis Day - and N.B. is ready


Legislature Bureau
Telegraph Journal

New Brunswickers will be able to take a legal puff of recreational pot on Oct. 17 now that the Senate has passed the Liberal government's cannabis legislation, making Canada the first country in the industrialized world to legalize the drug nationwide.


The provincial government said it wouldn’t have trouble hitting the target date.


“Our retail model is ready and our legislation has received royal assent,” said spokeswoman Sarah Bustard. “The first phase of Cannabis NB stores are ready as well as the online environment with home delivery. A broad call for applicants across the province has been put out by NB Liquor and they are still determining the exact number of employees for individual locations.”


The provincial government had been prepared for a July 1 legalization date and had pre-ordered lots of marijuana. But Bustard said it was too soon to say how much the delay, caused by senatorial debate over the bill, would hurt the province’s finances.


The split of public opinion on the issue was seen among New Brunswick senators, one of whom said it was about time the drug was legal and another arguing it was a sad day for people’s health.


“This came from the public,” said David Adams Richards, the independent senator who is best known for writing critically acclaimed novels based in his hometown of Miramichi. “The public gave the Liberals a majority government knowing they were going to do this. And I wasn’t going to stand in its way.”

Richards said he had no personal qualms about the drug.


“People have been smoking pot in their houses for years,” he said. “Anyone who wants to have a plant or two in their house is fine by me. My only concern is what kind of legislation will be in place to help landlords or tenants.”


A number of landlords across the country have complained their tenants could store up to four pots in their apartments. In a multi-unit apartment building, that could mean a lot of marijuana.


Quebec already passed its own law last week prohibiting pot plants at home, and given the federal law allows the practice, the matter will likely have to be settled by the courts over which level of government ultimately has jurisdiction.


Paul McIntyre, a Progressive Conservative senator from Charlo in northern New Brunswick, said he hated the bill.


“All levels of government should be promoting physical exercise instead of legalizing marijuana,” said the lawyer and marathon runner. “It’s as simple as that.”


McIntyre also worries Canada will be violating three international treaties it signed in previous decades upholding a cannabis ban.


“We never gave the United Nations notice,” he said. “And there will be problems at the U.S. border, as you know.”


While some states south of the border have legalized cannabis, it remains illegally federally in the United States.


Canadians who cross with pot - or who admit to smoking it - could run into serious trouble with U.S. customs agents.


The Senate voted Tuesday to lift almost a century-old prohibition on cannabis, passing the Liberal government’s legislation by 52-29. There were two abstentions.


Conservative senators remained resolutely opposed to legalization.

“When you normalize the use of marijuana and you’re a young person and you had certain reservations because of the simple fact that it was illegal, there’s, I believe, a propensity to have somebody be more inclined to use it,” said Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos.

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