Pubdate: Sun, 10 Sep 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Page: 17


The LCBO will be front and centre in distributing marijuana in

That's a huge victory for big government. Less so for consumers. On
Friday, the Ontario Liberals announced how they're planning to
regulate pot once it's legal next July.

Government isn't good at this sort of thing. Yet, it's seemingly
decided that only a government monopoly can be trusted to handle the
budding business of recreational marijuana.

It seems, frankly, a bit rich for the government to act so very
concerned about negative consequences of legal pot, but to make sure
the profits will stay with the state.

And while the business of selling pot is being entrusted to a
subsidiary of the LCBO, we expect the sort of corporate culture that
drives Ontarians mad with the liquor board - from the limited hours to
the prices - will doubtless remain.

Whether or not pot should be legalized, at this point, seems an
argument of the past. All signs indicate it's coming. But the "how"
still matters.

One of the cited objectives of the plan to make casual pot use legal
is ensuring that the black market goes away.

The price is a big issue in that endeavour. Price pot too high and
tokers will take to their old street dealers.

Speaking of the black market, the province says it's going to shut
down the illegal pot operations province-wide.

While we have said in this very space that illegal shops should be
shut down, that's because they've been openly flouting the law.

We weren't, however, calling for their closure so government/LCBO
could sweep in and do the same thing ... only with worse results.

There's another concern that's relatively unique to our city. We all
know underage teens pop across the river to get liquor in Gatineau.
Ontario is keeping - like alcohol - the age of purchase for pot at 19.
Smart, perhaps. But there's the potential for inter-provincial

How are we going to prevent young people from getting dope who live in
Ottawa? Do the police have a plan? Does the city, the province?

As for the LCBO, why not let smaller business compete? Cigarettes are
sold privately, and are heavily regulated. And haven't we been seeing
the slow move of liquor sales into new venues to make it more
accessible, rather than less?

Lastly, we're hopeful municipalities will get a real say in how the
scheme shakes out. Local residents are affected by this - their
representatives should have a role in choosing where these LCBO pot
shops go.

But our hopes that the system will be smartly designed are slowly
going up in smoke.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt