FREDERICTON (GNB) – Legislation will be introduced to establish a fund to support research and the development, implementation and delivery of education and awareness programs for harm reduction and the responsible use of cannabis for recreational purposes.

“Your government recognizes that there are a number of broad-ranging implications of the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “This legislation will ensure there is funding in place for research, education and awareness programs to be built and put in place as we prepare for the federal government’s July 2018 implementation date for the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis.”

The Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund Act will be administered by the Department of Finance. An advisory board will be established to set future guidelines and recommend projects to be funded each year. The fund will be used to support:

  • Education and awareness programs on the responsible use of cannabis including the development and implementation of policies and programs regarding harm reduction and the sale of cannabis for recreational use, and strategies for the reduction of the health effects of cannabis.
  • Research projects on the recreational use of cannabis.
  • Departments, corporations or agencies of the provincial government that pursue education and awareness initiatives regarding the recreational use of cannabis.

“Ensuring public health and safety are our priorities as we move towards the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, acting chief medical officer of health, who will also sit on the fund’s advisory board. “It is essential to build knowledge and gather data in order to understand the long-range implications of legalized cannabis, to ensure that programs to reduce harm and risks are in place. The projects this fund will support will help us build on this as well as create educational materials for those most at risk, such as the province’s youth.”

The fund will be supported by the Crown corporation mandated to oversee, conduct and manage the retailing of cannabis for recreational use. One of the commitments of the memoranda of understandings signed by cannabis suppliers and the Crown corporation is that suppliers will provide two per cent of their gross sales to the province to support efforts in the areas of education and awareness.

Rogers said that the creation of the fund is a partnership among stakeholders and said it will help ensure transparency and accountability of future research and awareness initiatives concerning the legalization of cannabis for recreational use.