Pubdate: Tue, 07 Nov 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Nick Martin
Page: A1


MANITOBA Premier Brian Pallister says he wants "the best of both
worlds" by including both private and public sectors in the handling
of legalized marijuana.

Nevertheless, he was talking up the attractions of the private sector
a lot more than the public Monday.

The premier will release details of the government's request for
proposals today. However, he repeated warnings Monday that gangs will
not simply go away when cannabis becomes legal in Canada on July 1.

The illegal gangs want to keep supplying the product that's been
making them a lot of money, Pallister told reporters. "They know how
to adapt. The competition isn't going to go away."

Meanwhile, Manitobans will today be "getting a pretty good percentile
of the idea" the government has for handling legal pot, the premier

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries - the Crown corporation in charge of
gambling and alcohol in the province - has said it filed an expression
of interest in the production, distribution, and sale of pot, and
public-sector unions support handling it publicly.

However, Pallister said he's not impressed that Ontario handed legal
cannabis over to an offshoot of its liquor control board.

"The public sector has things to offer," he said. However, "The
private sector is probably where you want to go if you want to take
your family out to dinner, not a government cafeteria. We do have an
indication there is a great deal of response from Manitoba companies,
companies around the country.

"We have a vibrant private sector here in Manitoba" that can deliver a
competitive product at a competitive price, he said. "We have to have
a system that offers users a product that is safe."

Legal pot must be a good product and kept out of the hands of minors,
but offered at a low price to undercut gangs, Pallister said.

"If you have a high-priced product, people won't buy it," he said. "We
have to offer a high-quality product to people who want to buy it, at
a competitive price."

Last week, Pallister revealed he's told cabinet ministers and senior
civil servants to declare any possible conflicts of interest they may
have on legal pot, and recuse themselves from the process.

On Monday, Pallister wouldn't say if anyone had done so because he was
uncertain if he'd be breaching privacy rules.

Meanwhile, Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he'd like to see the age
for buying legal pot set as high as possible.

"I've heard from medical professionals that age 25" would be ideal,
said Kinew. "A higher age of majority makes sense on cannabis."
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