Pubdate: Thu, 14 Sep 2017
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Kelly Egan
Page: A6


The government selling weed to anybody is a terrible idea.

So is the creation of a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of
Ontario to create and run a retail network.

I was browsing Ontario's sunshine list on Monday, the phone-book sized
document that catalogues publicsector salaries of more than $100,000.

The LCBO has either 359 or 313 employees on the list - honestly, it
was like counting jelly beans in a giant jar - including a president
and CEO who made $494,308 in 2016.

When the government retails anything, the overhead costs are
ridiculous. The stand-alone Cannabis Control Board of Ontario - if
such is even its name - will be required to have a board, with paid
members, supporting staff, some kind of secretariat, one imagines, and
an audit committee and such, and an annual report, and a logo, and
offices and, one assumes, many, many more people on the sunshine list.
This is before it sells a single gram.

The LCBO as a model? I was skimming its 2015-2016 annual report, a
104-page gripper I'm sure cost nothing to produce. It listed 10
vice-presidents. It did not list the names of 8,000 in-store
employees, most of them casual, some of whom earn close to $27 an hour.

That year, it cost $874 million in total expenses to run the LCBO, a
scandalous sum lost in the vast billions that liquor brings in and the
annual premium it sends to the province ($2 billion, give or take).

So, the point is an old one, like the story of the $2 hammer that
costs $60 after nine departments and six committees, in two languages,
decide it is an appropriate device to strike nails: The government,
not driven by a profit motive, is bad at selling and buying things.

Already, the first 40 stores sound silly. There will be no
self-service and the products will not be visible to youth. It being
the government, the stores won't be junky, but high-end, full of
security devices and vaults and probably cost the earth to lease or

People will line up for their pot, one assumes, like getting your
licenceplate sticker.

Staff, the government assures, "will have knowledge of the individual
products and public health information about how to use cannabis
responsibly." (On that note, I'd like to see the one living public
health official who is going to encourage anyone to use cannabis,
"responsibly" or otherwise.)

There seems to be all this concern about keeping weed shops away from
schools. Why? Isn't cannabis a suitable product for anyone older than
19? If not, why is the government selling it? And doesn't the CCBO
want to sell as much marijuana as possible? If so, set up right across
from universities and colleges.

Or are we just embarrassed about the whole thing?

The Globe and Mail published the results of an interesting poll on
Monday. It found only seven per cent of respondents agreed with the
Liberal government pitch that legally distributing marijuana would
lead to a drop in consumption by Canada's youth. That's because 93 per
cent of Canadians are smart.

On the weekend, a friend related this comment passed along by her
buddy: "You know, I haven't talked to one parent who thinks this is a
good idea."

Look at the lead quote from Yasir Naqvi, Ontario's attorney general
and a father of young children, who makes it sound like the province
is retailing vials of nitro to young people with the jitters: "We've
heard people across Ontario are anxious about the federal legalization
of cannabis." (Oh, "heard" have you?)

Booze, gambling, weed. How are any of these a public service in
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