FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has recently established an interdepartmental working group to gather information about the anticipated legalization of marijuana by the federal government. The working group is also examining the health and social ramifications as well as the economic benefits.

“The work that has been completed and the meetings already held by the working group have helped us gain a great deal of perspective on the marijuana industry in Canada as well as the United States,” said Stephen Horsman, minister of justice as well as minister of public safety. “The information collected has covered several aspects of marijuana legalization, including enforcement, regulation, taxation and distribution, which will help us make informed decisions on how best to move forward in a safe and responsible manner.”

The working group is led by representatives from the Department of Public Safety and NB Liquor. The group includes representation from the departments of Health; Social Development; Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries; and Finance as well as the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Opportunities NB.

“As we have seen in places such as Colorado and Washington State, there are economic and tax benefits to legalizing marijuana that can help pay for important things such as health care, education, social services and infrastructure,” said Horsman. “Once the federal government moves forward on legalization, we will be ready from a provincial standpoint with a focus on public safety.”

A number of different jurisdictions where marijuana is already legal as well as policing agencies, recreational and medicinal growing operations and others have been consulted. They include:

  • the executive director of Oregon State Liquor, who is responsible for alcohol and marijuana regulation in the state;
  • the State of Colorado's departments of marijuana enforcement, revenue management and public safety;
  • the head of the RCMP's coordinated marijuana enforcement team;
  • the organized crime section of the Vancouver Police Department;
  • the executive director of Canada's National Medical Marijuana Association, who is also a member of the Parliamentary advisory committee chaired by Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the federal justice minister and former chief of the Toronto Police Service;
  • owners of the Green Shop, a retail growing operation in Colorado;
  • owners of Craft710, a medical marijuana company in Colorado; and
  • senior staff at Zenabis, a medicinal marijuana company with a facility in Atholville.

Horsman has asked the federal government for information about possible timelines, regulation and jurisdiction. He is also working with federal, provincial and territorial colleagues on this file.

In February, Brian Harriman, president and CEO of NB Liquor, chaired a discussion about marijuana legalization with the other Canadian liquor jurisdictions. A follow-up meeting will be held this summer.