Canadian Politics

Legal Weed in Saskatchewan: Puff, Puff, Pass Some Legislation Already

It’s about time, right? I have been so slow in posting over the last couple of months, in part because I’ve been blessed with offers to write for money for other publications far more esteemed than this humble little blog.

But, you guys have been asking and that’s so awesome. I really appreciate your patience.


I have a six-year-old son, Maksim, who is extremely stubborn and strong-willed.

No idea where he gets that from.

When Maks doesn’t want to do something, he has all kinds of strategies to delay the inevitable. He goes into Slow Robot mode – a delightful machine who, oh-so-slowly, moves one joint at a time. Or he just slumps over at the waist, fingertips brushing the floor and shuffling his feet an inch at a time, ensuring we all know what an Oppressed Prisoner he is to our cruel demands.

My personal favorite – one I know many parents have experienced – is Dead Weight. He lays on the floor (or bed, or sofa – really any flat surface will do) and goes limp, refusing to move while moaning piteously or hollering furiously, depending on his mood and level of resistance. The end result is usually some combination of me blackmailing, threatening, begging, and/or dragging him across the floor to do whatever needs to be done.

But this isn’t about my multiple parenting awards.

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This is about the Saskatchewan government doing their best version of Dead Weight as the federal government and the rest of Canada moves toward the legalization of marijuana across the country. The Sask Party government has made it abundantly clear that once marijuana is legal, the sky will come crashing down to earth, and the sun will cease to continue to rise and set as normal. They’ve employed impressive Slow Robot, Oppressed Prisoner and Dead Weight tactics that would make Maksim proud.


Maksim doing his best impersonation of the Saskatchewan government’s approach to federally imposed changes in the province.

Consider this line from Saskatchewan’s most recent Throne Speech, delivered October 30, 2017:

“…government has no choice but to prepare for this historic revision to the Criminal Code.”

That’s how that tends to work – the feds are responsible for federal legislation and the provinces are required to subsequently make adjustments as necessary. I believe the framework for this was determined around the year 1867.

In Sask. Party MLA for Estevan Lori Carr’s speech in response to that Throne Speech, she said marijuana legalization is “something that we have to think seriously about. Now this is going to happen whether we agree with it or we disagree with it.”

Genius logic there. Genius.

From Sask. Party MLA for Kelvington-Wadena Hugh Nerlien’s Throne Speech response: “… we will need to face the challenges of ill – timed and, frankly, inconsiderate marijuana legislation that is politically expedient at the federal level but shifts an incredible regulatory burden onto the provinces.”

Soooooo… someone is making you do your job?

“Our challenge is the safety of our roads and workplaces, schoolyards and families. We don’t know the long – term impact on health care, social services, law enforcement, the judicial system, and equally the financial impact on the province.” –  Hugh Nerlien, Sask. Party MLA for Kelvington-Wadena

Just to clarify – twenty-nine months ago Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised, as part of his party’s campaign to win the 2015 federal election that he would legalize marijuana in Canada.

Twenty-two months ago, in April of 2016, Trudeau confirmed that they would be making good on that promise by delivering the new legislation the following year – which they did.

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In April 2017, or ten months ago, the federal government unveiled their new marijuana legislation, for implementation nationwide on July 1, 2018.

The Saskatchewan government has literally had years to get their act together on this and they simply have refused, like a child determined not to do something, or at the very least, to make their parent’s life hell before they do.

But it’s Sask. Party MLA Dan D’autremont who wins the prize for most ridiculous anti-marijuana rhetoric in his Throne Speech reply.

“Can you go to school and stand out on the sidewalk?”

Why yes, Dan, yes I think you can.

“Because you can’t smoke in school, but can you go to school and smoke out front of the school, your joint?”

Given you’re the GOVERNMENT, maybe you could start answering the questions instead of asking them? And who exactly are you asking, for that matter? Pretty sure you know the federal government doesn’t regulate municipal sidewalks.

“Yes, you’re not supposed to have it unless you’re of legal age — 18 or 19, 21 perhaps depending on which province you’re in — but you can legally possess it at age 16.”

The federal government did put a vague clause inside the Criminal Code changes stating that the cops will have the option of not charging a kid between the ages of 12 and 18 for possessing five grams of weed or under. But guess what? If they were actually trying to make progress on this file, D’Autremont’s government would know it has all the jurisdiction it needs to ban Saskatchewan minors from possessing any marijuana.

“So are we going to have high school kids going and standing on the sidewalks and having a few tokes before they go back to chemistry class and do their chemistry experiments?”

And I’m sure that has never, ever happened in the history of chem class or high school kids in Saskatchewan.

“I don’t know because the feds have never allowed time to work these things through. They just simply, you know, made the promise in 2015 and they’re implementing it next summer, and you’ve got to live with it. You figure it out after that point… I think this is a recipe for disaster.

I can’t even.

On that notion of the Saskatchewan government not having enough “time” to work through regulatory changes and new policy, let’s consider Bill 40.

Bill 40 would have allowed the Saskatchewan government to sell off 49 per cent of any Saskatchewan Crown Corporation. Think about the implications, had that gone ahead, of a sale of 49 per cent of SaskTel, for example. The implications for thousands of public servants, SaskTel operations and its customers.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that more people in Saskatchewan have some kind of contractual or reciprocal relationship with SaskTel – or SaskPower, or SaskEnergy etc. – than smoke weed.

Maybe not that many more, but more.

Yet in the span of twelve short months, the Saskatchewan government managed to introduce, pass, and then repeal that section of Bill 40. On cannabis, they’ve had almost twice that long just to do the first bit – prepare legislation regulating use in Saskatchewan – and they have outright refused.

Today, with just a mere few months to go til the feds pass their legislation, Saskatchewan and Nunavut share the distinction of being in last place in the country when it comes to level of preparedness.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 3.29.01 PM

This is, indeed, a recipe for disaster, as D’Autremont puts it, but for his government (which I’m pretty sure is not what he meant).

“It’s too soon to have that discussion,” Justice Minister Don Morgan said at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) 2018 convention’s “bear pit” forum, in response to a question from Regina Mayor Michael Fougere on how cannabis taxation revenue could be shared between the province and municipalities.

“It’s a discussion for further on down the road…We don’t know what the demand is going to be, we don’t know how many drug recognition experts we need, what kind of testing will be required…We’ll look at that further on down the road.” – Justice Minister Don Morgan on his government’s ridiculous refusal to prepare for legal cannabis in Saskatchewan.

Really. Almost every other province in Canada has figured out their road safety and policing plan, but it’s “too soon” for Saskatchewan – you know, the province of out-of-control drunk driving fame.

What could possibly go wrong?

Also in that bear pit session, Weyburn Mayor Marcel Roy asked Sports, Tourism and Culture Minister Gene Makowsky about what consideration the province has given to regulating weed tourism, which is totally going to be a thing in southern Saskatchewan once our neighbours across the American border figure out they can come up here for some high times. People from all over North America have been flying to Amsterdam for decades to do the same thing, so you can be fairly certain they’d drive up from Minot.

“Too soon,” Makowsky replied to Roy, echoing the Justice Minister’s approach of moments prior.

This is so remarkably tone-deaf, never mind politically amateurish. I mean, it’s not just urban centres looking for answers from the government, it’s the Sask. Party’s rural base as well. Bear pit questions on cannabis regulation came from SUMA councillors from centres like Rosetown and Unity. In fact, SUMA has an entire section of their website dedicated to lobbying the Sask. Party government to do their job on this issue.


Because they NEED MONEY, HELLO.

All I know for sure is that the Saskatchewan Party government’s lagging on implementing the federal Liberal Party’s marijuana legislation had better not be about any allegiance to or advancement of the political agenda of the federal Conservative Party of Canada.

Fred Bradshaw, Greg Brkich, Steven Bonk, David Buckingham, Lori Carr, Ken Cheveldayoff, Herb Cox, Bronwyn Eyre, Jeremy Harrison, Warren Kaeding, Greg Lawrence, Don Morgan, Eric Olauson, Greg Ottenbreit, Laura Ross, Warren Steinley, Lyle Stewart, Corey Tocher, Christine Tell, Randy Weeks, Nadine Wilson and Premier Scott Moe – aka over half the Sask Party caucus and Cabinet – are members of Andrew Scheer’s CPC.

To refresh your memory, the CPC’s official position on Trudeau’s marijuana legislation is “keep our great country safe from all the weed”, and that it will turn our kids into drug mules.

If you could allow me one more moment with my tinfoil hat: this delay, particularly in releasing the plan for issuing marijuana-retailing licenses, had also better not be about the provincial government giving their entrepreneurial and investment-savvy friends all the time in the world to get their cannabis-related business plans together and go on to make a ton of money.

This government would never do something like that, right?

Tourism, taxation, economic stimulus – this is a new market and industry that is about to blow up in Saskatchewan and bring a much-needed revenue stream into towns and communities, along with costs that need to be projected and managed. Yet the Sask. Party government sits idly by on their anti-weed high horse, not just refusing to clear the way for, but deliberately blocking new cash flow. It’s inexplicable, insulated, politically stupid, and potentially fiscally reckless.

Legal marijuana is coming whether the Sask. Party is ready or not, but it will be the taxpayer – many of whom are also their voters, for now – who loses if the government refuses to even try.

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For those of you who care, I’m Tammy Robert. I’m a writer, but pay the bills consulting in media and public relations. Feel free to email me anytime about either at



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