Pubdate: Wed, 08 Nov 2017
Source: Metro (Winnipeg, CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Free Daily News Group Inc.
Author: Braeden Jones
Page: 6


Province planning public-private hybrid plan

A local advocate believes "Manitoba has an opportunity to be a
country-wide leader" in marijuana legalization after the province
announced plans to exclusively sell marijuana through private retailers.

"Get ready for the green rush," said Steven Stairs, Winnipeg's most
outspoken cannabis proponent and community organizer.

On Tuesday, the Manitoba government revealed details of its hybrid
public-private response to the federal government's impending
legalization of recreational cannabis on July 1, 2018. It's a
significant departure from the public-sector biased approach of at
least one other province.

While the Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA) will be responsible for
regulating the purchase, storage and distribution of retail
cannabis-and the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MLCC) is
tasked with securing and tracking the supply of cannabis sold in the
province-the private sector has free rein on all retail sales.

Stairs said the plan is ideal from a customer perspective, as he
anticipates there will be a highly competitive retail market, giving
consumers the luxury of choice.

"I prefer that honestly, and the consensus amongst the cannabis
community is we prefer having people who know cannabis, who have used
it, have experience with it, involved on the retail side," Stairs
said. "It's easier for them to follow guidelines set by the government
than it is for the government to set guidelines then have to hire and
train employees.

"Frankly, they'll have better knowledge."

The government received 60 responses to an expression of interest
issued in July, which it said indicates "significant private-sector

Stairs said Manitoba's favourable approach doesn't only give local
entrepreneurs and companies a chance to reap the rewards of a new
industry, but also provides incentive for businesses chased out of
less permissive jurisdictions to relocate and stay in the game.

"Because we have private sales here now, and places like Ontario have
gone the complete opposite direction, that's a double-edged
sword-we're going 'slice, slice,' making it better, making Manitoba
this big open Prairie where there's nothing for (the industry) to do
but grow," he said.

Retailers interested in selling cannabis have until Dec. 22 to submit
applications to the Manitoba government.

In other parts of the country¬Ö

Ontario: To Manitoba's immediate east, the Liquor Control Board of 
Ontario (LCBO) is reigning over sales and distribution independent of 
private sector players by creating about 40 new retail locations by the 
time cannabis is expected to be legalized, and adding another 100 or so 
by 2020. Ontario is also shuttering all existing dispensaries.

Alberta: Like Manitoba, Alberta would have a government-regulated 
distributor, but the retail side is likely to be a bit more of a mixed 
bag in the land of privatized liquor stores. A draft framework suggests 
government-owned stores and private retailers are both being considered 
for retail cannabis sales post-legalization.
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MAP posted-by: Matt