Far too early to consider selling marijuana in P.E.I. liquor stores

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 2, 2016


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Finance Minister Allen Roach says it is not on his agenda right now

P.E.I. Finance Minister Allen Roach says it’s far too early to contemplate selling marijuana in Prince Edward Island liquor stores.

“I’ll be honest with you, marijuana being sold anywhere in P.E.I. is not on my agenda right now,” he told The Guardian.

“It’s premature to say we’re going to do it at the liquor stores or through any other way of selling it.”

Earlier this month, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested the federal government could use the Ontario liquor board as a marijuana vendor if and when Ottawa legalizes sale of the drug in Canada.

She is not alone.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger has also said provincial liquor stores would be best suited to sell marijuana if legalization occurs, and officials in British Columbia are actively pushing the federal government to allow private liquor stores to sell the drug once it becomes legal.

Prince Edward Island is taking a more wait-and-see approach.

“At this point in time it’s not yet legalized. I’m not sure what the federal government’s time frame and agenda is on that or how or when they intend on rolling it out, but I’m sure that there’s going to be a lot of debate in Ottawa before we get to that point,” Roach said.

As a former RCMP officer, Roach says he has long been a strong proponent of decriminalizing marijuana.

“I’ve seen enough over my time, and I’ve spent a lot of time in drug enforcement, and I’ve believed for many years that possession of marijuana, for those very simple possession charges, should have been decriminalized,” he said.

“We have a lot of people who have experimented with marijuana, they have a very small quantity on them, they’re trying it, it’s curiosity. And I felt that for someone to have, let’s say, half a gram or a gram of marijuana and for them to be charged and have a criminal record because of that, I’ve always felt that wasn’t perhaps necessary.”

In the meantime, he says the province will watch what happens in Ottawa and leave debate about how the drug would be legally distributed and sold in P.E.I. until more definitive changes have been made at the federal level.

“My own belief is that it’s way out in front of us at this time… I think we’ll have a lot of time in the interim to discuss how it’s going to be rolled out.”