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Recreational pot will be sold through existing NSLCs, minimum age set at 19

There will also be online sales through the NSLC
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furey-recreational pot announcement - Copy
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Mark Furey announces the province's first decisions on the legalization of cannabis (Mark Hodgins/HalifaxToday.ca)

Nova Scotia has announced that when cannabis is legalized in July, the minimum age to purchase and possess will be 19 years of age.

The government says that will bring our province in line with Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick.

It will be sold at existing Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stores, however not all NSLCs will sell cannabis, and the province hasn't yet determined how many locations will sell the product.

There will also be online sales through the NSLC.

"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," said Minister of Justice and Attorney General Mark Furey.

In a news conference, Furey said an organization will be set up within the NSLC to find contracts for the supply and sales of marijuana, and made it clear that existing dispensaries will continue to be illegal after legalization.

The province has also accepted the following restrictions outlined by Federal legislation:

  • a personal possession limit of up to 30 grams
  • a personal cultivation limit of up to four plants per household
  • the establishment of provincial penalties for youth possession of up to five grams

Furey said these decisions are just the start.

"We're not rolling out our entire approach to legalization today, we're taking the time to get this right, and as we make decisions, we will share those with you," said Furey in a news conference.

SURVEY RESULTS

The provincial government also released details of its public survey on cannabis legalization Thursday morning.

Questions included support for legalization, legal age, distribution model, public use of weed and impaired driving. 

The survey found 78 per cent of respondents support legalization, and that increases to 89 per cent among 18 to 34 year olds. 

Two-thirds also want to see the legal age set at 19. As well, 73 per cent of people want government to allow public use of marijuana, with restrictions similar to those placed on tobacco. 

As for where legal pot would be sold, the survey found mixed results. The plan to sell marijuana through the NSLC was polarizing, with a near 50/50 split. The province received similar results on NSLC-run stand-alone stores and online ordering. 

The majority of those who responded to the survey also want to see additional penalties for drug-impaired driving. 

The province said 31,031 surveys were filled out. More than half of the responses came from the Halifax Regional Municipality, and 68 per cent had finished college or university. 

The results are not to be taken as an opinion of the general population, according to the government, but rather those who are engaged in the process. 

STAKEHOLDER'S TAKE

The province said most health organizations it spoke to suggested a legal age of 21 or 25, citing protection of young people, but admitted 19 was most realistic to keep in line with age limits for other substances and to keep young people from going to the black market for weed. 

Most stakeholders supported the idea of selling legalized marijuana through the NSLC, but at stand-alone stores. Concerns were raised around the cost of going with a public model, which some argued would raise costs and do little to keep people from the black market as a result. 

Supply issues and regulations around edible products were also concerns brought up. 

As for public use, most said there should be rules to protect those in the public who don't want to be around the smoke. But others said not allowing outdoor use could discriminate against groups like renters, who may not be allowed to smoke in their homes. 

There's also concern about workplace use, and how intoxication at work can be identified and enforced. 



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