Saskatchewan is lagging behind compared to other Canadian provinces. It was the last province to offer a policy on marijuana ahead of the expected legalization this summer.
The government of Saskatchewan announced on Monday that private companies will be able to sell marijuana after the drug is federally legalized nationwide, CBC reported.
“Our government is being diligent to ensure the sale and regulation of cannabis in Saskatchewan strikes a balance between public safety and access for consumers,”
Gene Makowsky, the minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), said.
SLGA will issue 60 retail permits to private stores in about 40 municipalities and First Nations territories across the province.
While it is not all clear that all Canadian provinces will allow private companies to sell marijuana, Makowsky said the government wasn’t interested in spending millions of dollars in setting up the infrastructure needed to sell cannabis.
“It de-risks the taxpayer, certainly. It’s an ill-defined market right now. We’re not sure what the future of that is going to be.”
The prairie province would still make money from taxation and licensing fees, Makowsky said. However, those details have not been clarified yet, he added.
Makowsky made the statement after what he described as a tough deadline set by the federal government to see July 1 as the legalization date.
“The federal government has established very aggressive timelines for the legalization of cannabis,” Makowsky said.
Meanwhile, a recent online survey commissioned by Saskatchewan showed 45 percent of respondents would like to see SLGA run the stores.
People were ignored
Nicole Sarauer, the interim NDP Leader, criticized the provincial government for not consulting the people. Sarauer said,
“If you’re a retailer who wants to get involved in this business, you’re no further ahead in terms of knowledge. We have very little information in what’s going on in this industry.”