Pubdate: Thu, 05 Oct 2017
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Lorne Gunter
Page: 5


Alberta NDP's cannabis retail rules could work, as long as sales
remain in the private sector

The Notley government's proposed rules for legal pot sales in Alberta,
released Wednesday, might just work.

The key will be whether the NDP can be convinced to let private
retailers sell weed, rather than selling it through government-owned
stores run by bureaucrats and staffed by union members.

The proposals deal with who may buy weed and where, how it may be
marketed and how to keep dope-impaired drivers off our roads and
toked-up workers out of the workplace.

Simply by allowing the possibility of private marijuana retailers, the
Alberta proposals are miles ahead of the ones released by the Ontario
government last month.

In Ontario, Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne plans to allow legal pot
sales only through 120 government stores. The long drives, lineups,
holiday closures and short hours will all ensure the Ontario
experiment is a failure.

Pot may be bought illegally almost everywhere, any time of the day or
night. If marijuana will not be available legally with similar
convenience, few current users are going to go to all the trouble of
buying it within the law.

In Ottawa on Wednesday, Premier Rachel Notley reminded the federal
government it had promised to provide the provinces with a framework
for legal pot sales that would make sure legit weed could be
competitively priced with the illegal kind - "to push out the black
market," Notley explained.

But that's only half the equation. Being able to by it conveniently -
close-by and at a wide range of hours - is the other half.

Ontario's proposal is so inconvenient it all but guarantees criminal
pot will continue to thrive.

Most people want to do things legally. They will even pay a small
premium to do so.

But they won't jump through hoops.

Take music downloads, for example.

At one point, illegal music "sharing" services, such as Napster, where
widespread. They have since been largely pushed aside by legal
download sites such as iTunes and subscription streaming services such
as Spotify, because legal sites offered similar convenience while
charging only slightly more.

So while our NDP government is offering Albertans a choice over the
next month of whether pot should be sold in government stores or
private ones, there really can be no alternative to private sales -
that is if the government truly wants to make black market pot obsolete.

The NDP appear set to permit private retailers to take over cannabis
sales in pot-only shops. Weed will not be available in current liquor
stores or anywhere near schools or other child-oriented locations.

But you can tell from Wednesday's proposals some New Dems would really
love to restrict sales to government-owned stores operated by
public-sector union workers, if they thought they could get away with
it politically.

The documents released by Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, suggest
that government control would permit a "level playing field for large
and craft producers" alike. And it would "prevent small communities
from being penalized for delivery costs by making sure product is
shipped at the same price no matter where it's going."

There would also be "greater oversight and more control" and "public
retail would also be able to consider the health and safety of the
public … and offer more consistency in products available."

But if the NDP can resist their controlling instincts (and the
temptation to throw

their union buddies hundreds or thousands of new members), this might
just work.

Albertans would be allowed to grow cannabis in their own homes (but
not outside), smoke it where tobacco is allowed (except in cars) and
possess up to 30 grams in public - all reasonable limitations.

Maybe, too, online sales will be allowed in the future and "cannabis

Yet as a first step, this all makes far more sense than Ontario's
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