Pubdate: Thu, 16 Feb 2017
Source: Vancouver 24hours (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Vancouver 24 hrs.
Author: Ada Slivinski
Page: 4


As the feds prepare to legalize marijuana, the task force appointed to
conceptualize legalization has now recommended the drug be sold in
plain packaging.

I can't imagine this being implemented successfully in Vancouver. This
city famously has more pot shops than Tim Hortons restaurants and from
Point Grey's Wealth to Marc Emery's Cannabis Culture they all have
unique brands designed to attract a particular clientele.

They are also all operating outside the law and have been - in some
cases - for years. Now, the federal government wants to legalize pot
and force the blooming industry to comply with their rules but just
like you can't close Pandora's box once it's been opened, it will be
extremely difficult to shove all the brands and businesses built
around marijuana into one uniform, plain package.

Of course police could close down shops but the Vancouver Police
Department has long said policing pot shops is not a priority - and
the drain enforcing marijuana laws has on those resources was actually
cited as a reason for legalizing the drug. The City could levy fines
but thus far, most shops who have been fined either refuse to pay with
no consequence or find the fine amount puts barely a dent in their
profits so they continue operating as they were anyway.

Complying with plain packaging rules would make it difficult for
dispensaries to differentiate themselves and inevitably eat into their
profits while offering no incentive to operate under the legal system.

The marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver have grown into a force to be
reckoned with and are now pushing back. Cam Battley, executive
vice-president at Aurora Cannabis is one marijuana businessman who has
spoken out against plain packaged. He's argued the logos and branding
are necessary to lure customers from the illegal market. The feds are
now in position where they are trying win over drug dealers and those
who purchase illegal drugs.

It's easy to see who has the upper hand and this summer, when we've
been told legalization will come. Trudeau pandered to the pot smokers
and dispensary owners during the campaign and he will want to keep
them on his side. It's easy to hypothetically compare marijuana to
alcohol or tobacco, but the reality is a lot messier. Industry
packaging has evolved so far beyond those uniform clear plastic
baggies and it won't be easy to go back.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt