Senate co-operation needed for government to meet July timetable for legal pot

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government insists it’s on track to legalize recreational pot in July — but that will require co-operation from senators who don’t appear to be in any hurry to pass the legislation.

Three federal ministers — Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale — are making a rare appearance in the Senate, where they’re fielding questions from senators on Bill C-45.

Petitpas Taylor says provincial and territorial governments have indicated they’ll need eight to 12 weeks after the legislation has received royal assent before they’ll be ready to implement the new regime for legalized and regulated cannabis.

That would mean the Senate would have to pass the bill by no later than the end of May, if the legislation is to go into effect by the end of July.

Conservative Senate leader Larry Smith says his senators won’t be obstructionist, but they will insist on rigorous and thorough examination of the bill.

He also argues that the government is rushing to legalize marijuana and should take more time to, among other things, launch an intensive public education campaign on the negative impact of cannabis use on young, developing brains.

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