Pubdate: Sat, 11 Nov 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Kelly Cryderman
Page: A14


Alberta will introduce legislation as soon as next week to allow the
establishment of private cannabis stores, and will also launch a
battle with Ottawa over how to split the tax revenue from the drug

Late Friday, Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci held a news conference
to slam the federal government's proposal that Ottawa get 50 per cent
of the excise tax on marijuana products. The provinces and territories
would receive the other half.

Ottawa's claim to a large share of the $1 a gram, or 10 per cent of
the producer's sale price, is not fair, Mr. Ceci contends. The
provinces and municipalities, not Ottawa, will be responsible for
related costs, such as policing, education and other implementation

"That level of clawback from the federal government is unacceptable,"
he told reporters in Calgary.

Mr. Ceci said he does not quibble with the 10 per cent tax, but says
100 per cent of the revenue - or close to it - should go to the
provinces, which will have to do the heavy lifting as recreational
cannabis is legalized.

"I'll be sending a letter immediately on behalf of all the provinces
back to the federal government saying that's unacceptable, and we need
to get in a room together to work this out."

Ottawa says it will consult with the provinces and territories on the
proposed new taxation regime on cannabis. But as Canada moves toward
the legalization of recreational marijuana by July 1, provinces are
dealing with a host of issues.

Alberta said Friday that legislation on the distribution and sales
model for recreational cannabis is likely to come next week.

On Tuesday, the government will introduce amendments to the Traffic
Safety Act to prepare for the legalization of cannabis, legislation
likely to include administrative penalties for drug-impaired driving.

The Edmonton Journal has reported that Alberta will adopt a private
model of storefront sales for marijuana after the NDP government
rejected the idea of government-run cannabis storefronts. However, the
report said online sales will be controlled by the government.

The decision on a hybrid system might be an attempt at the middle
ground for the Alberta government. Last month, it said it was giving
equal consideration to either a private model or a government model
for storefront sales. Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said
the private sales model is similar to the province's long-time system
for storefront alcohol sales, which is already familiar to Albertans.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the province's largest
union and a key part of the NDP government's base, adopted a
resolution in late October in support of the public operation and
ownership of cannabis retail outlets. At the time, AUPE president Guy
Smith said the resolution was not about creating more public-sector
jobs, it was about having "educated professionals" overseeing cannabis
and keeping it out of the hands of youth or black-market players.

In its draft plan laid out in October, Alberta proposed allowing
public consumption in many areas, as long as they are where smoking is
currently allowed, and are far away from schools, playgrounds and
other sites frequented by children. It also suggests the minimum age
for consumption be set at 18 - the same as the legal drinking age in

Alberta has stood out - along with provinces such as Ontario and
Manitoba - for the relative speed at which it has made decisions about
the detailed aspects of the legalization, including retail sales and
road safety.

This week, Manitoba said cannabis will be sold through private-sector
retail outlets and online stores at prices retailers will be able to
set themselves. The government will maintain a wholesale monopoly and
regulate distribution. Municipalities will be able to ban
marijuanastores, and cannabis will not be sold in the same premises as

New Brunswick has also given some details of its plan, saying smoking
marijuana in public will be banned, and that cannabis users will have
to store their supply in a locked container in their home. The
province has also said the licences of drivers suspected of being
impaired could be suspended on the spot.
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MAP posted-by: Matt