Pubdate: Tue, 15 Dec 2015
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Keith Leslie
Page: A1


Federal Liberal Pledge to Make Marijuana Legal Sparks Distribution Ideas

TORONTO - Premier Kathleen Wynne says it would "make a lot of sense" 
for Ontario's government-run liquor stores to sell marijuana if the 
federal Liberals make good on their promise to legalize pot.

The new federal government's throne speech this month included a 
pledge to "legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana," 
following up on a pledge by Justin Trudeau's Liberals.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which has 650 stores and a 
virtual monopoly on alcohol sales, has the experience and expertise 
to sell legalized marijuana in a responsible way, Wynne said Monday.

"It makes sense to me that the liquor distribution mechanism that we 
have in place, the LCBO, is very well suited to putting into place 
the social responsibility aspects that would need to be in place," she said.

"Obviously I don't know what the timeline is with the federal 
government, but it seems to me that using that distribution network 
of the LCBO ... I think that makes a lot of sense."

The LCBO said it would take direction from the province on how to 
proceed if Ottawa follows through and legalizes recreational 
marijuana. "Obviously we have been monitoring the situation and its 
potential implications," said LCBO spokesperson Christine Bujold. 
"However, without federal legislative change and specific direction 
from the provincial government, it would be premature for us to work 
on any concrete operational plans."

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union said in November that 
marijuana should be sold in LCBO stores once it's legalized.

"Marijuana must be a controlled substance, and no one has more 
experience retailing controlled substances than the workers at the 
LCBO," said OPSEU president Smokey Thomas.

"There needs to be a strong regulatory framework in place, including 
minimum age limits, a ban on marketing, and a plan to prevent 
cannabis-impaired driving."

Wynne said other provinces are considering similar options to retail 
marijuana through their already-established distribution networks.

The unions representing workers at government-owned and private 
liquor stores in British Columbia formed a partnership to advocate 
for the sale of legalized marijuana through the province's existing 
retail system for alcohol.

The federal Liberals first promised to legalize pot more than a year 
ago, when they were in opposition, prompting a barrage of 
Conservative attack ads that asserted marijuana would be sold to 
children through corner stores.

Officials say the first step in the path to legalization of marijuana 
will be to establish a provincial, territorial and federal task force 
to hear from public health, substance abuse and public safety experts.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in five American jurisdictions: 
Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, the state of Washington and Washington, D.C.

Pot activists Jody Emery and her husband Marc Emery, Canada's 
self-styled Prince of Pot, want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to 
impose a moratorium on marijuana arrests while the government 
develops its policy to legalize pot.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom