Pubdate: Thu, 14 Sep 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Martin Regg Cohn
Page: A11


My nanny never dealt me dope. That's why I'm flummoxed by the flurry
of protests against Premier Kathleen Wynne, accused of being Ontario's
nanny-in-chief in the matter of marijuana sales.

Pushing dope isn't in the job description for normal nannies. And yet
our premier is prepared to serve it up.

Seems nanny is now a dirty word in our ideological wars, hurled at any
hint of government regulation or red tape: Seatbelt laws, motorcycle
helmets, gun registries, booze controls, drug restrictions - all
evidence of the nanny state repressing and dressing us down,
conspiring to inhibit our presumed right to imbibe and inhale in a

How to fathom the fog that has fallen over opposition politicians,
pundits, hipsters, humorists and potheads taking potshots at our
putative nanny premier for being so dopey about dope? Let us
deconstruct the inanity of the nanny narrative, and get down in the
weeds on weed:

Wynne's government is apparently under fire for spelling out how one
might visit a government marijuana joint for a joint or two starting
next summer. For the first time in Canadian history, one will be able
to procure competitively-priced cannabis without risk of arrest,
rip-offs, contamination, dilution, distortion or extortion.

Wynne has promised to open 40 new government owned and operated
marijuana stores to meet the July 1, 2018 deadline set by Ottawa for
national sales, doubling that number by 2019 and reaching 150 outlets
within two years. Online sales will also let you get spaced out via
cyberspace starting next summer.

Yet a clamour has erupted on behalf of corner stores and dispensaries
getting their fair share. Even the small business lobby over at the
CFIB is squawking about our meddling nanny premier.

Incidentally, this isn't so much incipient sexism as it is
conventional name-calling: The terminology predates her, first
sticking to Dalton McGuinty, a.k.a. Premier Dad, for supposedly
presiding over a nanny state.

Full disclosure: I never had a nanny. Nor did I get far with toking or
smoking dope (not that I deny inhaling - I just kept exhaling
involuntarily in a fit of uncontrolled coughing).

I'm not much of a beer drinker or boozer either. But that hasn't
disqualified me from pronouncing, as a political columnist, on our
bogus Beer Store framework, or the ups and downs of the LCBO.

Critics who compare the new marijuana framework to the ossified
oligopoly of the Beer Store are comparing apples and oranges - akin to
conflating hemp and hops. The Beer Store was revealed as a
privately-run anachronism, a consortium of big multinational brewers
profiting from a government license to print money - unlike the LCBO,
a reasonably efficient, publicly owned entity whose revenues accrue to
the treasury.

Another allegation is that the province will gouge dope smokers while
greedily cashing in. Yet why wouldn't the government seek to maximize
revenues in the same way that it profits from alcohol and tobacco
sales, especially given the obligation for costly new public education
campaigns to counter abuse?

Yes, the future price of marijuana must remain competitive with the
underground market. But most Ontarians don't pine for a dramatic
expansion in dope sales, let alone a free-for-all.

That any government, of any political stripe, would suddenly turn on
the tap for tokers is a stretch. Allowing the private sector to muscle
in on the marijuana trade would require a far greater regulatory
bureaucracy to licence and inspect small outlets.

By retaining sole control, at least initially, the government can
slowly roll out its retail channel for tokers to roll their own. It
can determine precisely where and when to situate those stores,
measuring market demand while testing the tolerance of local

Where privatization requires costly and clunky regulation, publicly
owned distribution benefits from stronger responsibility,
accountability and transparency, with well-trained, unionized
employees. The LCBO also has the advantage of being a trusted
supplier, which explains why a Nanos Research poll commissioned by the
OPSEU union last year showed it was the preferred choice of Ontarians
as a retail outlet. To those who dream of dope distribution on demand,
be careful what you wish for. You can have too much of a good thing.

Ontarians tend to moderation in all things, not least marijuana. When
the haze settles, critics might discover that people no more pine for
a dope dispensary on every doorstep than they welcome a pusher on
every corner.
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MAP posted-by: Matt