Pubdate: Wed, 14 Dec 2016
Source: Beacon Herald, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Page: 5


Pot and booze don't go together. According to a report released
Tuesday from the federal task force on marijuana legalization,
marijuana, once it's legalized, shouldn't be sold in the same place as

That, of course, runs contrary to what Premier Kathleen Wynne and her
government want in Ontario; they've floated the idea of selling it at
government-run LCBOs.

But the report from the task force, headed up by Anne McLellan, a
former Liberal cabinet minister and four-term MP for Edmonton Centre,
says there are big problems with selling alcohol and pot together. For
instance, it notes that some 80 per cent of Canadians drink, while
only 11 per cent use marijuana. "There is a significant risk of
cannabis and cannabis advertising being introduced to a large number
of Canadians who might not otherwise use cannabis," the report declares.

It cites Ontario in particular: 137 million transactions are made at
LCBOs around the province each year. "The potential for increasing
rates of use and co-use run counter to the public health objectives of
harm reduction and prevention," the report says.

This is a consistent theme: The report repeatedly - and rightly -
cautions against thinking of pot as a revenue tool, instead saying its
legalization should be approached as a public health and harm
reduction issue. In particular, use of marijuana and alcohol
simultaneously is a significant public health risk, especially when it
comes to driving.

Mind you, the task force suggests these decisions should be left up to
the provinces and municipalities. So co-sales could still happen here,
or these special stores could still be operated by a
government-sanctioned monopoly. Still, keeping marijuana away from
government-run liquor stores seems clearly reasonable.

Elsewhere, the report makes other recommendations: Cannabis lounges,
for example, though cigarette smokers must still step out into the
cold. An age of 18 for consumption countrywide, to prevent a black
market from thriving to serve a younger cohort, if the age were set
any higher. There's also distinct wariness about taxation and revenue

All in all, the Liberal government now has some clear recommendations
on the best way forward with its pot legalization plan. This is good,
as time is already being squeezed on many Liberal promises.

Too much stalling, and an election promise could easily go up in
smoke, leaving us to drown our sorrows with plain old hooch.

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