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Ontario opposition parties question timing of pot plan as two Liberal trials begin

Last Updated Sep 11, 2017 at 2:18 pm EST

A young man smokes a marijuana joint during a rally in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 20, 2011. A coalition of academics is calling on the federal government to make researching the effects of pot a priority as Ottawa works to legalize and regulate marijuana by next July. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Ontario’s opposition parties say the Liberal government rushed the release of the province’s marijuana plan in an attempt to distract from a pair of high profile trials involving party workers.

On the first day of the Ontario legislature’s fall sitting, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says in their bid to distract, the government announced the marijuana plan before fully considering both public safety and public health issues.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath says the government must put social responsibility first in its legislation but the proposal rolled out Friday doesn’t say how it will achieve that.

Two Liberals face Election Act bribery charges trial in Sudbury related to a 2015 byelection, while another pair face mischief and the breach of trust trial in Toronto related to the cancellation of two gas plants before the 2011 election.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says the timing of the marijuana announcement was about ensuring the government plan was in place before the federal deadline to regulate recreational marijuana of July 2018.

The Liberal government announced that it will sell marijuana in as many as 150 dedicated stores run by the province’s liquor control board and the legal age to buy it will be 19 years old.