Ottawa sticking to July 2018 deadline to legalize pot

OTTAWA—The federal government is staying firm on its plan to legalize marijuana by next summer, even if it has to “backstop” provinces that aren’t ready to distribute cannabis or tax it.Worries about the readiness for legalization were aired Monday when a meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers ended with no clear agreement on a co-ordinated strategy to tax cannabis or even on the principles to guide how it should be taxed.Indeed, behind the scenes several provinces appealed to Ottawa to delay legalization to provide more time to prepare the myriad law enforcement and health moves required by the change.But Ottawa won’t budge on its deadline to legalize marijuana by July 2018, a fact Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made clear Monday.“We gave everyone lots of time,” Trudeau said on Parliament Hill. “We’ve been working for a long time with all the provinces, with municipalities . . . It is time to move on.”Article Continued BelowFederal Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the approaching deadline to legalization should spur the work necessary to make it a reality.“We know that to get things done, we need to set a timeline. That’s exactly what we’ve done,” Morneau told reporters after the meeting.But after a day of meeting with no agreement on the issue — an agenda that also included topics such as the state of the Canadian economy and Canada-U.S. relations — he conceded that work lies ahead.