FREDERICTON – New Brunswick NDP Leader Dominic Cardy offered his support for the new federal Liberal government’s platform commitment to legalize marijuana, saying New Brunswick should take immediate steps to prepare for the change in federal law.
“The new federal government has made it clear they will change the law. New Brunswick needs to make sure we are ready: both to take advantage of the opportunities offered by legalization and to mitigate the risks,” Cardy said.
Cardy called for Premier Gallant to prepare for discussions with the federal government around the production, distribution, and taxation of marijuana. He said, “There needs to be a discussion with different departments so we are ready, as a province, when legalization gets the green light.”
“The federal Liberal platform says the marijuana laws will be drafted with the provinces. We encourage the provincial government to look at the experience in Colorado, where, if you adjust based on the relative size of our economy, taxing marijuana under the current HST plus a 15% excise tax would bring in an around $4.7 million in year one and $10.2 million in year two,” Cardy said.
There would be notable savings in law enforcement costs, as 70 percent of drug crimes in New Brunswick are cannabis-related offences. “If we stop treating marijuana users as criminals to a substance most users consume responsibly with a few who will need help, we can free up police resources for coping with much more serious offences,” Cardy said.
Cardy called for the government to prepare for legalized marijuana by introducing breathalyser tests for cannabis and other drugs. “Legal marijuana has to mean responsible marijuana use; we need to see the penalties for drunk driving applied to anyone who gets behind the wheel when intoxicated, no matter the reason.”