Pubdate: Fri, 14 Jul 2017
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Joyanne Pursaga
Page: 4


Manitoba's premier believes legal pot sellers will be forced to
compete with gangs and lack a sufficient supply of the drug to do so.

Premier Brian Pallister he expects the "unrealistic" federal timeline
that mandates pot sales be legalized by July 2018 will lead to direct
competition between legal and illegal sellers. He plans to lobby
fellow premiers at a first ministers meeting in Edmonton next week to
join his call to delay that date.

"There's no way that we're going to supply the demand, except in part.
So therefore, we're moving into a situation where we're going to
compete gradually with gang distribution marijuana. Right there, we're
not in a position to take over the market with legal cannabis
distribution systems because we don't have enough production," said

"(It's) pretty clearly understood we don't have enough pot to sell but
we're supposed to be legalizing it in a year," Pallister added.

Pallister said the imposed timeline to prepare for the change also
puts road safety at risk.

"If we see any uptick in the numbers of ... users, that will
potentially lead to more accidents, more deaths," he said.

Pallister said he plans to reveal his strategy for Manitoba's
commercialization of pot in about two weeks but refused to specify his
take on where the drug should be sold.

But the communications director for Canada's health minister said
legalized pot will have to compete with the black market before it
reaches the ultimate goal of eliminating illegal sales.

"At some point we will need to compete," said Yves Comeau. "The
objective is eventually the black market of cannabis

Comeau said Health Canada is now processing 428 applications for those
who wish to become licensed marijuana producers and has streamlined
the process to ensure regulated pot production can meet demand.

He said a public education campaign will soon inform Canadians how
much safer regulated pot is, in part because it wouldn't be tainted
with other drugs.

"Illegal producers will strain products that will eventually lead
users to take stronger drugs ... Part of the quality supply is to
ensure that that doesn't happen," said Comeau.

Pallister made his comments while sharing a list of priorities for the
first ministers conference, which include boosting inter-provincial
trade and securing more federal resources to address the asylum
seekers entering Manitoba at unmarked crossings.

The province said those numbers have soared since 2015, when 220
individuals made that journey.

That number jumped to 575 in 2016 and has already exceeded 750 this
year. The leaves Manitoba on track to reach about 1,500 to 1,800
claims throughout 2017, an immigration spokesman confirmed.
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