Legal marijuana age will be 19 in Sask.

The minimum age to consume recreational marijuana in Saskatchewan will be 19, the provincial government announced March 14.

Justice minister Don Morgan said that decision was made after much discussion and consultation.

“We decided this kept us in line with what the age for consumption and possession of alcohol was and that seemed to be the direction most of the provinces were going,” he said.

Going with an older age might have made it easier for the black market to establish, he added.

The price of cannabis in Saskatchewan has yet to be established.

Details of the province’s cannabis framework also include zero tolerance for all drug-impaired drivers in the province and a ban on consuming cannabis in public spaces, schools and day cares.

The legislation will prohibit possession of any amount of marijuana by a minor. However, people younger than 18 who possess smaller amounts will be ticketed and the product seized, Morgan said. Possession of more than five grams will be a criminal offence.

Saskatchewan will adopt the federal minimum standard regarding home production and limit that to four plants per household.

Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Minister Gene Makowsky said the selection process for retail permits is now underway and closes April 10 at 2 p.m.

Earlier this year, the province announced private retailers would sell cannabis, and that about 60 permits would be available in 40 municipalities.

The three First Nations eligible for retail permits — Lac La Ronge, Onion Lake and Peter Ballantyne — have asked for and received more time to make a decision about proceeding.

“Biggar, Pilot Butte, Shellbrook, Kindersley and White City were eligible in this initial allocation but have opted out,” Makowsky said.

As well, Estevan has decided to have just one retail outlet instead of the two it could have had based on population.

Eligible rural municipalities are Corman Park and Edenwold.

Makowsky said 51 permits are available in 32 communities, and the detailed request for proposals is now available on sasktenders.ca.

Wholesale permits will also be available beginning in April.

Morgan said municipalities can legislate where recreational cannabis can be consumed.

He also said police have begun training as drug recognition experts.

The Saskatchewan framework is based largely on survey results from 34,681 respondents last fall. Of those, 26,199 completed the full survey and more than 9,800 submitted short answer responses, the government said.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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