Pubdate: Fri, 06 Oct 2017
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Dean Bennett
Page: 10


The advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants Alberta to sell
marijuana through government-run stores - at least in the short term -
to ensure public safety before profit.

Andrew Murie, the CEO of MADD, points to marijuana stores in the
United States that slash prices to mark the annual April 20
counter-culture celebration of public cannabis consumption.

"There are a lot of people that want to make a lot of money on this
legalization, a lot of entrepreneurs, and they're not interested in
public safety," Murie said in an interview Thursday.

"I think governments, especially the provincial government, (need to)
stand up and say, 'Look we will proceed with caution, and we will make
sure that we're not losing a lot of young people, which is the
greatest risk."'

MADD and other groups are weighing in on Alberta's plans to regulate
and enforce the legalization of recreational use of marijuana starting
July 1.

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Wednesday the plan is to have
the legal age of consumption set at 18 to match the legal age for
drinking and smoking.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would distribute and oversee
sales, but Ganley said the province hasn't decided whether the
government should sell weed or let private entrepreneurs do it.

Alberta regulates and sells its liquor through private

Ivonne Martinez, head of the Alberta Liquor Store Association, said
that model has shown it can work and required zoning restrictions are
already in place to keep stores away from where kids gather. "If you
want to try to meet the tight deadlines that the federal government is
putting forward - I think that meets all of their requirements," said

No matter what the model, Ganley said cannabis will not be sold in the
same venues as tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceutical drugs.

Martinez said existing liquor stores could adapt, physically wall off
two sides and create separate entrances.

The Alberta Medical Association declined comment Thursday, but in
written submissions to the province has made it clear it strongly
disagrees with setting the legal age at 18 instead of 21.

"Legalizing recreational cannabis at an age of 18 knowing the clear
effects on the developing brain and higher risk of addiction at
younger ages is inappropriate," wrote the association. "It sends a
message that there is no increase in risk and harm to youth, which is
clearly incorrect."

Ganley has said 18 makes sense because it's better to have young
people get marijuana over the counter than from a drug dealer.

The federal government won't allow the sale of cannabis-laced edible
products until it develops regulatory oversight to dictate things such
as serving sizes, potency and health warnings.

The state of Colorado legalized marijuana use in 2012 and has seen a
rise in accidental ingestion and poisonings among children.

Kathy Belton of the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of
Alberta said she wants to see more information on how governments plan
to keep kids safe.

"The age limit is not what is shown to be best practice, but I
understand why the province chose 18 years," said Belton in an email.

"The more distressing point is the lack of detail about the consumer
education program."

Ganley is also promising tougher rules on enforcement before next

Murie said he has pushed the province to use the opportunity to
increase the age of zero tolerance for any impaired driving - be it
drugs or alcohol - to 22 to bring Alberta in line with most other 
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