Pubdate: Wed, 14 Dec 2016
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: 5


Pot industry players react to marijuana legalization report

Pot smokers, dispensary owners and cannabis industry executives
reacted Tuesday to the federal government task force recommendations
on how Canada should go about legalizing recreational marijuana.

The dispensary manager: Stores should be here to stay

Kristina Simpson's hands fly up to her face in shock when she's
informed the task force has come out in favour of marijuana
storefronts. "Oh my gosh!" says the manager of Weeds Glass & Gifts
dispensary on Bank Street. "I'm so happy!" She had braced herself for
a more restrictive approach. The task force said storefronts with
"well-trained, knowledgeable staff" should have a place, although the
provinces would be left to decide how and where marijuana is sold.

Weeds caters to medical marijuana patients, but the chain's owner, Don
Briere, says he set up stores across the country in anticipation of
selling to recreational users.

The display cases at Weeds are filled with jars of dried bud as well
as cannabis oil and honey, brownies, cookies, candy and chocolates
wrapped in brightly coloured foil. The task force says "edible"
cannabis products should be allowed, but nothing that appeals to
children, such as things packaged to look like candy, in bright
colours, or with cartoon characters. It also said edibles should have
a standard maximum amount of THC per serving, carry warning labels and
be in opaque, child-resistant packaging.

"That all makes total sense," says Simpson.

She disagrees, however, with recommendation of setting a minimum age
to purchase pot at 18. (The provinces would have the right to make it
higher to harmonize with age limits for alcohol and tobacco
purchases.) Simpson said 21 would be more reasonable, which is the age
suggested by some health authorities because of concerns about the
effects of cannabis on developing brains.

Youths from 18 to 21 are already inundated with a "party culture" and
heavy promotion of harmful substances like alcohol, said Simpson.
"Those years are such crucial times, when you are still developing as
a person. You're throwing all these things into your body and you
don't even know how to cope with it all."

The recreational toker: Take the money away from the

The government has two options when it comes to the sale of pot, says
Patrick, a well-spoken 37-year-old emerging from the Green Tree
marijuana store on Preston Street Tuesday afternoon clutching a bag
with six grams of dried weed. "It can put the money into the hands of
the drug dealers, or it can put it in the hands of the

The federal government used the same reasoning when it announced it
would legalize recreational marijuana Kristina Simpson, the manager of
the Weeds outlet on Bank Street, was shocked by the results of a
government report on marijuana legalization. Inset left: Bruce Linton,
co-founder, CEO and chairman of Tweed Inc. checks some of his medical
marijuana. Inset right: Customers were interviewed outside the Green
Tree marijuana dispensary, yesterday.

in order to keep profits out of the hands of criminals and restrict
access to young people.

Patrick suggested the government use tax revenue from the
multi-billion-dollar legal trade in pot to fund schools and social

However, the task force report released Tuesday says public health
concerns should trump the generation of revenue. Among the things the
report says the government should invest in: public education about
the harms of marijuana and the dangers of impaired driving; prevention
and treatment of addiction; research on the medical benefits of
marijuana; enforcement; and administration of the new rules.

The medical cannabis exec: A good balance of competing

The task force did a good job of balancing competing interests in the
debate over the best way to legalize marijuana, says Bruce Linton, the
CEO of Canopy Growth Corp., the parent company for Smiths Falls
medical marijuana company Tweed, which is poised to jump into the
recreational market.

The task force recommended that production of recreational marijuana
be regulated by the federal government, but the creation of a
"diverse, competitive market" that includes small producers should be

Linton says he has no problem with competition. It's possible for
smaller growers to meet safety and security standards, too, he said.

The task force also recommended plain packaging for cannabis products,
and heavy restrictions on advertising and promotion that would be
similar to those imposed on tobacco products.

"I don't think anyone was expecting to have psychedelic colours on the
bags," says Linton. But packages should be allowed to include the name
of the company, its address, and some information about the effects of
the product, he said.

The heavy user: At least the government will collect money from his

A.J. is 31 and has been smoking pot since he was 12. "I was smoking at
a young age, and I don't think I turned out very well," he says with a
self-deprecating grin. He's just purchased a couple of grams of Green
Death weed from the Green Tree marijuana store on Preston Street to
feed his habit of three joints a day.

A.J. supports legalization, and says prohibition doesn't work. But pot
"isn't all wonderful," he says. It's just better than harder drugs,
which he has now kicked. A.J. says he's looking forward to being able
to buy marijuana legally from a store, and having the government tax
his habit.

"Just so it's giving back as much as it's taking."
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