Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jul 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Mike Hager
Page: A4


The current method of regulating retail alcohol sales allows for
discretion in a variety of areas. Calgary city staff report

Calgary city staff are recommending that Alberta set up a private
retail system for recreational-cannabis sales, similar to its liquor
stores, once the drug becomes legal next summer.

Council is set to debate this and other recommendations on cannabis
legalization Monday as municipalities across the country begin
grappling with the nuts and bolts of regulating a drug that Canadians
have largely been prohibited from buying and selling for almost a century.

In a report, staff argue that Calgary, where illegal pot shops are
being shut down by police, should ask the provincial government to
develop a privatized system of cannabis stores.

"The current method of regulating retail alcohol sales allows for
discretion in a variety of areas, including the location of businesses
and operating hours," the report states.

While such a privatized system would fit best into the existing
municipal regulatory framework, the city would need a significant
amount of provincial or federal sales taxes on the drug to offset the
strain of overseeing the new industry, according to the report.

The report also states that further public consultation is needed
before the city decides whether to support asking the province to set
the minimum age for cannabis at 18, which is when young people can buy
tobacco and alcohol in Alberta.

As well, staff are recommending the city canvass Calgarians about
whether they want licensed venues for the legal consumption of
cannabis, such as vapour lounges. If the province allows these
businesses, they could be regulated in the same way as bars, the
report states.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi was unavailable for comment Sunday, but earlier
this year he said his city will be well prepared for the eventual sale
of legal cannabis, noting Vancouver and Toronto were caught flatfooted
when their illegal-dispensary sectors exploded.

"It became a very big problem for those city councils and, frankly,
one they weren't prepared for," he told reporters in February.

As legalization looms, Toronto has cracked down on the retail sale of
cannabis while Vancouver and other communities in British Columbia
have licensed dispensaries, arguing that their bylaws can be easily
modified once the federal and provincial governments unveil new rules.

Calgary must submit its feedback to Alberta by the end of this month,
as part of the province's continuing consultation with stakeholders
and the public as it crafts a draft set of rules for the drug expected
to be released this fall.

In April, Kathleen Ganley, Alberta's Justice Minister and
Solicitor-General, said it is unlikely Albertans will be able to
purchase cannabis and alcohol at the same shop, which is an idea
previously floated by politicians in British Columbia, Manitoba and

The federal task-force report guiding Ottawa's legalization of
cannabis recommended against selling the drug in liquor stores,
stating concerns that mixing alcohol and marijuana leads to higher
levels of intoxication. Pharmacies or private shops, such as
dispensaries that are currently illegal under federal drug laws, are
also possible venues, experts say.

To date, the federal government has indicated that it will leave the
contentious issues of regulating the wholesale distribution and
retailing of cannabis up to the provinces and territories, a move that
industry insiders and academics have predicted could hamper the
uniform rollout of legalization across all jurisdictions.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his government's
commitment to legalizing cannabis by July 1, 2018, despite the
country's premiers saying they will only be able to meet that deadline
if Ottawa gives the provinces guidance on five issues: road safety,
distribution, taxation, public education and how sales of the legal
drug might affect the black market.
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