CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – There will be four initial locations for marijuana sales in P.E.I. as the provincial government announced Tuesday more preliminary directions for cannabis legislation.
The retail sites will be in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague and West Prince, although specific locations have not been determined as yet.
“We haven't been totally specific on exact locations, (but) we know the areas that we are looking at,’’ said Finance Minister Heath MacDonald. “We are striving to have capacity in those areas.’’
As announced in December, there will be four stand-alone, government-owned locations. Unlike some other provinces, marijuana will not be sold in liquor stores.
MacDonald said the province may expand beyond four retail locations.
“It will all depend on sales and the progress of this and the demand, but we’re certainly looking at any options.’’
MacDonald wouldn’t say whether the province would use existing buildings or build new ones or if it would be using buildings the province already owns.
The province is also entering into agreements with three companies to supply legal and regulated product – Canada’s Island Garden in Charlottetown; OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B. and Canopy Growth Corp. in Smith Falls, Ont. The province will purchase product from those companies to put into stores.
5 Fast Facts
1. Adults will be allowed to publicly possess 30 grams of lawful dried marijuana
2. Youth under 19 will be prohibited from possessing marijuana
3. The province will strengthen roadside suspension and create summary offence in cases of impaired driving with a minor
4. Marijuana will be sold initially at four locations in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague and West Prince
5. The P.E.I. government has entered in agreements with three companies to supply product: Canada’s Island Garden in Charlottetown; OrganiGram in Moncton; Canopy Growth Corp in Smith Falls, Ont.
Adults will be allowed to publicly possess 30 grams of lawful dried cannabis or equivalent, but youth under 19 will be prohibited from possessing the product. The province’s focus on youth will be on prevention, diversion and harm reduction, meaning counselling rather than jail time.
The province will strengthen roadside inspections and create a summary offence in cases of impaired driving with a minor, with potential for increasing penalties in the future.
“We’ve been working with our police forces to increase training and awareness . . . in relation to drug use as it stands now,’’ said Justice Minister Jordan Brown. “As we go forward, we’ve indicated in regards to impaired driving or usage while in a car that there are going to be some different initiatives to deal with. If there is a minor in the car, that will result in a penalty that will be in place at roadside as we go forward. The actual legislation is still to be set.’’
Brown said there is some precedent in the area, citing smoking nicotine with a minor in the car.
“It’s not in the same realm, (but) you could be looking at a fine (or) a driving suspension and potentially something more serious than that.’’
While transporting cannabis, it must remain in an unopened package and where an open package is being transported the product will be required to be secure and inaccessible to anyone in the vehicle.
There was still no word Tuesday on how much the product will cost consumers. The province is also not saying what it will make from cannabis sales.
As for where people will be allowed to smoke, government seems OK with doing it in the home but hasn’t arrived at any decisions yet on public spaces.
MacDonald also didn’t shed much light on how much this is costing the province.
“We knew this was coming and we budgeted for it,’’ MacDonald said.
When asked if it’s into the millions of dollars he said, “I don’t believe we’re into that stage yet’’.
P.E.I. is also still working out how many plants people will be allowed to grow in their homes. Federal guidelines say four per home.
“I would assume there will be at some point (regulations) allowing people to grow at home. It’s the amount. Where’s the boundary between growing for criminal activity and for personal use?’’ MacDonald said.
As for the locations, the finance minister said the request for proposals process should take a month to six weeks. They’ll be open in time to comply with federal regulations.