Pubdate: Wed, 08 Nov 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Solomon Israel
Page: A3


MANITOBA has become the first province to allow the private sector to
play a central role in the future retail sales of recreational
cannabis in Canada.

The federal Cannabis Act, which is not yet law, would make the federal
government responsible for regulating the production of recreational
cannabis. Designing a system for distribution and sales will be up to
provinces and territories. The Manitoba government's plan, which will
let private retailers operate cannabis stores in conjunction with a
government-owned regulation, distribution and supply regime, is a far
cry from the all-public plans already revealed by some other provinces.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the provincial Crown alcohol
corporation, is creating a subsidiary to manage sales and distribution
of marijuana. About 40 retail locations - separate from liquor outlets
- - are scheduled to open by July, when federal cannabis legalization is
expected to take effect, with 150 stores planned by 2020.

Product will be kept out of sight behind counters, similar to tobacco
sales in Ontario. A parallel online sales system will provide access
in more remote locations. New Brunswick has also tapped its Crown
alcohol corporation, NB Liquor, to manage marijuana retailing through
a subsidiary. The province has initial plans for up to 20 retail
stores in 15 communities across the province, plus online sales to
fill any gaps.

Quebec has yet to officially unveil its plans for cannabis sales, but
an Oct. 24 report in La Presse said the province will retail marijuana
through a subsidiary of its provincial Crown alcohol corporation, the
Societe des alcools du Quebec. That SAQ subsidiary, La Presse
reported, will be "non-commercial" in nature, and any profits will be
spent on drug-prevention programs.

Alberta has announced a "government-regulated distributor" for
provincial cannabis sales on a wholesale level, but has not yet
announced who will be responsible for actual retail sales. According
to Alberta's draft framework for cannabis legalization,
government-owned stores and licensed private retailers are both being

British Columbia - the province most frequently associated with
illegal cannabis production - just finished its public consultation on
recreational cannabis legalization, but has not yet announced its approach.

Since some B.C. municipalities have already chosen to license and
regulate local cannabis dispensaries, marijuana industry insiders are
watching closely to see whether those dispensaries will be allowed to
continue existing inside the province's legal framework.
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