Pubdate: Sat, 09 Sep 2017
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Patrick Bales
Page: A1


The Ontario government is going to pot.

The province announced Wednesday it plans to replace drug dealers and
dispensaries next year when recreational marijuana use is set to be
legalized in Canada. Legislation will be introduced at Queen's Park
later in the fall that will make the government the only legal retail
distributor for cannabis in Ontario.

The stores will be under the purview of the LCBO. However, alcohol and
marijuana will not be sold side by side.

"We are committed to getting this transition right," Charles Sousa,
Ontario's minister of finance, said in a news release announcing the
policy. "When it comes to retail distribution, the LCBO has the
expertise, experience and insight to ensure careful control of
cannabis, helping us to discourage illicit market activity and see
that illegal dispensaries are shut down."

The province's action is fairly aligned with how Paul Sieger, of
Paul's Para Fernalia in Orillia, predicted the legalization of
marijuana would look like.

"Realistically, it is the only way they can maintain the integrity of
the product," he said. "A standalone building is the only way they can
do it. They're going to have to fortify it; they're going to have to
have a big enough storage area (that's) climate controlled; (and) it
has to be maintained."

But keeping the marijuana - and those selling it - safe is only part
of the equation. Having that overarching body can help ensure the
quality and the strength of the product is up to snuff for public

As for the future of his business, he's not worried.

"I'm not a dispensary," he said, plainly. What he sells is the
paraphernalia required to consume marijuana products. Soon, he
imagines every corner store will, too, but he hopes the credibility
he's built up over the past two years in business will be to his benefit.

"I think it's going to make it better for us, because people are going
to have to use products in order to smoke it," Sieger said. "You need
vapourizers, water pipes, bongs, rolling papers - whatever people use.
There's all these different methods. People have to have a choice."

Under the province's proposed plan, no one younger than 19 can legally
consume marijuana - the same age of majority dictating alcohol and
tobacco consumption. Police will be allowed to confiscate small
amounts of marijuana from minors, in tune with a provincial approach
to protecting youth, focused on prevention, diversion, and harm
reduction without unnecessarily bringing them into contact with the
justice system.

While the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit had called for 21 to be
the legal pot-smoking age, the organization is largely satisfied by
the proposal from the province.

"On the whole, we're very pleased about the government's plans for
strong controls," said Dr. Lisa Simon, associate medical officer of
health. "We're happy to see the announcement of a government-owned and
- -controlled system for access through a subsidiarity of the LCBO and
at the same time that cannabis will sold separately from alcohol by
trained staff."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt