The federal government is set to legalize marijuana in July 2018. The PEI Government indicated that it will introduce legislation to regulate the sale of the product in the spring. Recently, in Ontario the Government has chosen to distribute the sale of marijuana through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). The Government and the province’s public sector union agree that having the LCBO regulate the sale of cannabis is the best way to protect minors from purchasing the product, and to ensure quality control and public safety.
Whatever age PEI decides to make the minimum age for purchasing and using marijuana, it will be key to have the minimum age properly enforced at the point of sale. The PEI Liquor Control Commission (PEI LCC) has a proven record of enforcing the minimum age and actively promotes social responsibility as part of its mandate. The LCC also has the resources and ability to deliver public education about safe and appropriate use, as well as the risks and consequences of drug-impaired driving.
In PEI, private cannabis dispensaries have not emerged as is the case in Ontario. In Ontario police have raided and shut down many of them, only to have them re-open. These establishments were willing to break the law and operate in areas of high youth activity in order to keep selling cannabis illegally. All private dispensaries across Ontario will be shut down over the next year in preparation for the government controlled public system. In PEI this step will not be necessary since there are no private dispensaries in operation. This eases the implementation of the public model in PEI for government.
UPSE recognizes that the best way to keep minors from purchasing cannabis is to control its sale through the PEI LCC. It’s also the best way to ensure product safety and social responsibility for all Islanders. We believe it’s more responsible to use the public model when dispensing a government controlled substance and enforcing minimum age restrictions. UPSE will continue to lobby government to use the public model for the sale and distribution of cannabis. It’s the safest and most responsible way to proceed and profits are re-invested into vital public services like health care, education and services that keep our communities healthy and safe for all Islanders.