Pubdate: Mon, 25 Sep 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Page: 7


To combat organized crime on pot sales in Ontario, legal marijuana is
going to have to be competitive with the black market on price,
availability, quality and variety.

With legal pot coming July 1 - unless Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
delays the law - Premier Kathleen Wynne's provincial government
already appears to have conceded the field on price and

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said last week Ontario is looking at
selling legal pot for about $10 per gram.

That compares to an average street price in Ontario of about $8.64 per
gram, according to a report by the federal parliamentary budget
officer late last year.

Legal pot will only be available, to start, online or at 40 LCBO -run
stores, sold from behind a counter like the LCBO used to sell alcohol
half a century ago.

While the province is planning 150 legal pot stores by 2020, it's up
against, according to the RCMP, 300 criminal organizations across
Canada involved in the $7 billion a year illegal pot trade.

The fact the provincial government estimates its initial revenues from
legal pot at $100 million annually, indicates even it doesn't think
legal pot is going to make a significant dent into the illegal market
any time soon.

In terms of pricing pot, governments face the same dilemma they did
with cigarettes.

By imposing high taxes on them, they created a thriving black market
in a legal product, which could also happen with pot.

That would defeat the purpose of legal pot which is, according to
Trudeau, keeping it out of the hands of children. (In Ontario, anyone
under 19.)

Having all but conceded the field to organized crime on the price and
availability of pot, the only other factors governments can compete on
are product quality and variety. Don't hold your breath. Indeed, a
bigger dent on illegal pot sales could come from people being able to
grow up to four marijuana plants at home for their personal use after

Finally, might the government eventually try to boost lagging sales of
legal pot the same way it's trying to do with lagging electric vehicle
sales - by offering consumers massive public subsidies?

Probably not, although with this government, we wouldn't rule anything
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt