Pubdate: Mon, 11 Sep 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Page: 7


Welcome to the 1950s when, if an Ontarian wanted to legally purchase
alcohol, he or she entered a bland warehouse, filled out and signed an
order form, then handed it to a clerk who disappeared into a back room
and eventually emerged with a limited amount of booze for purchase.

That sounds a lot like what Kathleen Wynne's government has proposed
as an approach to cannabis, which is to be legalized nationally as
early as July.

Under the province's plan, you won't be able to buy cannabis from
private entrepreneurs, or at an LCBO. Instead, the Ontario government
will set up an independent subsidiary of the liquor control board to
peddle pot. Advertising will be limited, there will be no
self-service, the products will be kept behind the counter, and you'd
better be able to prove you are 19 or older.

This approach is rubbish. It disrespects the spirit of the
yet-to-be-passed federal legalization legislation, which, though
reluctantly, recognizes that individuals have the right to make
choices about what they consume. Ontario seems to feel that if it must
allow citizens to smoke pot, it will at least make this as difficult
as possible. Ontario's approach is bad for other reasons:

* It will create more government bureaucracy. Another provincial
agency is poised to spring from the imagination of the nanny state,
this time to run a retail business.

* The province will have to make guesses about the right pricing,
since it wishes to shut down the black market in drugs. But the best
way to get prices right is to let private entrepreneurs determine what
they wish to charge and take the associated economic risks. The
cannabis control board, or whatever it will be called, will also have
to figure out which pot products it will market.

* While the current batch of pop-up pot shops is illegal, these
outlets offer the beginnings of a private-sector model for selling
marijuana. They have supply chains, a certain expertise and a client
base. If made legal, they would require careful regulation and health
inspections, and would need to adhere to zoning and other local rules.
Further, governments could still tax pot products, just as they tax
cigarettes, gasoline and other goods.

No one should be surprised the province has taken a school-marm
approach to marijuana. There's a provincial election next year, and
the government's "safe and sensible approach," as it dubs its pot
policy, is indeed that - for the governing party.

But it does not make a good deal of sense for consumers. Just as it
didn't in the 1950s.
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MAP posted-by: Matt