Pubdate: Wed, 04 Oct 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Author: James Wood
Page: A3


Justice minister set to unveil policy framework for legalized

Alberta companies are eagerly waiting to see whether they can do
business under the provincial government's plan for legal marijuana.

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley will unveil the NDP
government's policy framework for cannabis once the Trudeau government
legalizes recreational marijuana on July 1, 2018.

Among the areas expected to be addressed by the government are the
legal age for consumption, pricing and how cannabis will be
distributed and sold in the province.

That last point is key for a number of businesses in the

Jeff Mooij, president and CEO of the 420 Clinic medical cannabis
resource centre, which is looking to branch into recreational
marijuana, said he expects Alberta will leave legal marijuana retail
to the private sector and not follow Ontario's path in setting up
government-run stores.

"To provide the safety and security that everybody's looking for and
also to create jobs, which it will, the private retail and
distribution model is probably the best model for this," said Mooij,
whose company runs clinics in Calgary and Lethbridge.

Ontario was the first province to reveal its plans for legal
marijuana, with the government announcing plans for the Liquor Control
Board of Ontario - the Crown corporation that operates the province's
liquor stores - to set up a network of 150 stand-alone pot retail shops.

Mooij noted that without government-run liquor stores in Alberta,
there is no existing infrastructure for public sector retail in the
province, though he expects the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission
to play a significant role in distribution.

He said Ontario is also not creating enough stores to meet demand,
which will fuel the black market.

The Alberta Liquor Store Association, meanwhile, has called for the
province to use the province's 1,400 existing private liquor stores to
sell legal pot. While Ottawa has not ruled that out, the federal task
force that studied the issue recommended against the co-location of
marijuana and alcohol sales.

Darren Bondar, CEO of Inner Spirit - a Calgary-based company that
wants to set up franchised recreational marijuana dispensaries across
Canada - believes his company could have 100 stores in the province.

He is hopeful the provincial rules will call for stores that
specialize in cannabis products.

"There will be competition. I think, like anything, it's best to let
the free market decide who survives and who thrives and who doesn't
fit the bill," said Bondar, who is also the founder of the Watch It
chain of watch and sunglasses stores.

The NDP government has been tight-lipped about its intentions around
legal marijuana and has promised further public consultations after it
releases its plan.

The federal government did set a minimum age of 18 for cannabis use
across the country, though provinces are able to set a higher age if
they wish.

Ganley, while not saying what the age for marijuana consumption will
be in Alberta, has said that the province will not adjust its current
age of 18 for drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco, a possibility
floated by Alberta Health Services.

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said last week that the legal age for
cannabis use should be 18 in Alberta.

"Much as the science would tell us that a higher age for consumption
makes sense, this could be problematic when the drinking age is 18,"
the Calgary-Elbow MLA said in a news release.

Clark also said the province should allow private retailing of
marijuana and "under no circumstances" set up a new Crown

The new United Conservative Party has not publicly put forward its
positions around legal weed.
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