The Canadian province of Nova Scotia plans to sell weed at liquor stores when recreational cannabis becomes legal across the country next summer.
The Nova Scotian government announced this week that pot will be sold through provincially licensed liquor corporation outlets. The legal drinking age in Nova Scotia, and across much of the rest of Canada, is 19. Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey said at a news conference that the legal age to use, possess or purchase marijuana will also be 19, despite objections from some health-related organizations.
The chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia suggested that 21 or even 25 would be a more appropriate age for marijuana use. He cited concerns about the effects of cannabis on the developing brain of people under the age of 25.
Legal Cannabis Across Canada
Under Canada’s new pot laws, adults will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams for personal consumption. They will also be allowed to grow up to four plants per household. The Trudeau government introduced legislation this year to legalize recreational cannabis by July 2018. Individual provinces will determine details such as how it will be sold.
Minister Furey did not specify how many Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. (NSLC) stores will carry cannabis. Speaking to the press, Furey said, “The NSLC has the experience and expertise to distribute and sell restricted products like alcohol and now cannabis in a socially responsible way.”
He continued: “We believe the NSLC is best positioned to sell cannabis, keeping it out of the hands of young people and making it legally available in a safe, regulated way.”
Furey said that cannabis dispensaries that exist today will be illegal under the new provincial regulations.
Nova Scotia hopes to use production facilities approved to cultivate cannabis in the province. However, only two facilities in Nova Scotia have so far been approved by Health Canada. Furey also said it may be challenging for the NSLC to obtain enough cannabis to meet the expected demand. However, he said, “Our objective is to secure the product locally.”
Survey Respondents Split
The Nova Scotia government said an online survey regarding legal cannabis was completed more than 31,000 times. Respondents were split over key questions about the sale and distribution of cannabis—for example, whether they supported the NSLC taking on the role of the main distributor. Only 49 percent of respondents agreed with the provincial liquor corporation operating as a cannabis sales outlet.
Another question posed in the survey was whether cannabis should be available through online ordering, with home or store delivery. More than half of respondents wanted new stand alone stores for cannabis, rather than it being sold alongside beer, wine or liquor in existing NSLC outlets.