Pubdate: Sat, 11 Nov 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Graham Thomson
Page: 4


Alberta is definitely going to pot.

But privately, not publicly.

According to a good old fashioned scoop by my colleague Emma Graney,
the government will introduce legislation next week to allow the
private sector to sell marijuana in stand-alone stores starting July
of next year.

Thus endeth the big mystery over whether pot sales would be done
through privately owned shops or government-controlled outlets.

These "hemporiums" (I'm really hoping that catches on) will be run
much like our private liquor stores that are located all over the
place, making a beer run much more convenient than the days of yore
(before 1993) when Alberta's government-run liquor stores were the
only game in town.

By making the sales privately run, the NDP government will irritate
some of its most ardent supporters, specifically members of the
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees who had voted at their
convention in October to support government-run stores.

The AUPE members didn't say so, but they were probably hoping
government-run stores would be run by union members, specifically
those in the AUPE.

But there are more upsides here for the government than

For one, handing the bricks-and-mortar sales of marijuana to the
private sector will please the private sector and defang conservative
opposition members ready to pounce on the government as too
anti-business and too pro-union.

For another, getting some union members upset with the NDP is a good
thing if it demonstrates the NDP is a moderate, middle-of-the-road

But not everything will be privately run. Online sales will be
controlled by the government. That's a way for the government to help
ensure pot will not get in the hands of some precocious underage Albertans.

Of course, you have to wonder then why the government allows the
online sale of alcohol where the customer's identification is checked
at the door by the delivery person. Couldn't that be done in the case
of pot, too?

Based on the government's previous comments, the new pot stores will
be separate from alcohol stores. Experts have told them it sends a bad
message to consumers about combining their intoxicants.

The government doesn't want to make it easy for you to mix your bud
with your Bud.

We'll get the government's cannabis bill next week.

About the same time, we'll see an angry letter from the Alberta
government to the federal government over plans to tax marijuana.

Ottawa has said it will add a 10 per cent levy to the sales, with
revenues split evenly between the federal government and the provinces.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci says he's writing a letter on behalf
of the other provinces complaining that it's not fair for Ottawa to
saddle the provinces with the cost of legalizing marijuana but only
giving them half the revenue.

"The federal government must be smoking something to think it will
work for the provinces," said Ceci, proving that even politicians
can't avoid cannabis-related jokes. "It's unacceptable."

The province could slap on its own tax, but that might send the price
of pot so high that consumers will be driven back to the black market.

Speaking of getting high, members of the Alberta Party might be in the
mood to celebrate at their annual convention next weekend.

Their leader, Greg Clark, has resigned.

There will be so many people slapping their foreheads in surprise that
it might sound suspiciously like applause.

Clark's future as leader has been under a cloud for

In June, when Clark was speaking at a meeting of the political action
committee, Alberta Together, I said members of the committee were
quietly looking to elbow him aside to get a new leader for the Alberta

Alberta Together is trying to build a moderate movement, led by the
Alberta Party, for the next election. They just don't want Clark to be

Again in July, I wrote that even though members of the movement quite
like Clark they "quietly suggest they might have to gently nudge him
aside to make room for a more dynamic and better-known leader."

Clark is staying on as an MLA. But bizarrely says now that he's
stepped down as leader, he might run again for leader. Really?

To paraphrase Ceci, you have to wonder what Clark has been smoking.
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