Pubdate: Sun, 10 Sep 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Andre Marin
Page: 15


Making it hard for Ontarians to buy pot

Seldom has a government been so out of touch with voters than the
Wynne government's approach to selling pot.

Remember, we are talking here not about the de-criminalization of the
consumption of pot but the federal government making it full-out
legal, or recreational, as you will, as of July 1, 2018.

The decision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to legalize pot use was
not a rogue one. It was one of his main planks of the last federal
election that drove primarily youth, but also others, to rush to the
ballot box to vote Liberal.

You'd expect Premier Kathleen Wynne's government to embrace the
decision and facilitate the sale of pot. But, no, what we're getting
is a puritanical, post-prohibition-era-style distribution system that
will result in pot shaming those who had hoped that their federal
Liberal vote meant something.

Wynne's method of following through with Trudeau's wildly popular
promise? Open LCBO-run pot shops. Forty next summer when the
legalization kicks in, 80 by year's end, then topping it up to 150
standalone marijuana stores by 2020. By contrast, there are more than
800 LCBOs in Ontario.

To put it in perspective, given Ontario's population of nearly 14
million, this translates into 0.00000571 stores per person the first
year of legalization. How will this stem the flow of pot through the
black market?

On Friday, Wynne dispatched her three princes of darkness to explain
the evolution of the nanny state in dealing with pot. Attorney General
Yasir Naqvi wagged his fingers, sounding an ominous tone, distancing
himself from his federal cousins.

"Legalization is taking place at the federal level," Naqvi said. "It's
not a matter of supporting or opposing."

Which is beyond the point. His job is to make it available in a way
that won't feed the black-market and doesn't perpetuate the stigma
associated with its use. Finance Minister Charles Sousa in his
baritone voice cheered about how well the "LCBO model works," so let's
go that way. Sure, it works! You

want craft beer, you can only go to a certain supermarket where only a
type of Ontario wine will also be sold. You might need to hunt down
another supermarket for another type of wine. Corner stores? Don't
even think about it. Spirits? LCBO only. It's a mishmash of rules that
don't make any sense. Great model, indeed.

Then, there was Health Minister Eric Hoskins talking about the evils
of marijuana and its health implications. A conversation held and
concluded many years ago. Alcohol is far worse for your health.
Finally, in an ode to the mid-century style LCBOs, if you happen to
make it to the government pot shop, the actual stuff will be hidden
from plain view. God forbid if your eyes made contact with it, you
might have nightmares. Maybe we'll also have to don a brown paper bag
over our heads before entering the stores. You wouldn't want your
neighbour to see you there.

And the government promises not to use the stores as a cash cow. Don't
believe that one in a second. Booze and cigarettes are taxed to death.
There's no way it'll be different for pot.

Trudeau's promise to legalize pot has been turned into clickbait. It's
a betrayal of Trudeau's extremely popular promise by Wynne's liberals.

Wynne has been leading a campaign-style government for the last year,
giving away free pharma, free education, huge hikes to the minimum
wage etc. Her backward approach to making pot available may yet prove
to be her albatross in next June's election. You read it here first.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt