Pubdate: Sat, 11 Nov 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Emma Graney
Page: A5


The provincial government's plan to allow legal marijuana sales at
privately owned stores has the business community optimistic about
potential opportunities.

Less impressed is Finance Minister Joe Ceci, who was grinding his
teeth Friday at the federal government's proposed 50/50 split in tax
revenue from pot sales.

"I'm not sure what the federal government is smoking, but I can tell
you that's not going to work for Alberta," he told media.

Provinces and municipalities are bearing the brunt of the
responsibility around legalized pot sales, he argued, so it's unfair
for the federal government to swoop in and grab half of the cash.

Ceci said that money should instead go to making sure cannabis stays
out of the hands of children, keeping the criminal element out of the
industry, and maintaining safe roads and public spaces.

The federal government wants to tax legalized marijuana at 10 per
cent. Ceci said he has already sent a letter to the federal government
saying taking half of that revenue is "unacceptable."

While Ceci fumed, prospective pot retailers were rubbing their hands
together Friday at the chance for a stake in legal cannabis sales.

The Alberta Liquor Store Association is awaiting more details on
legislation, but president Ivonne Martinez is happy about the
direction in which government is headed.

"This is a fantastic first step that recognizes the strength of
Alberta's entrepreneurial spirit and ability to step up to the plate,"
Martinez said.

She said liquor stores are still not exactly sure what it means for
their role in cannabis infrastructure, but they're crossing their fingers.

A group of potential cannabis retailers have already come together to
form the Alberta Cannabis Collective in preparation for legal pot
sales on July 1.

The group wants to act as the voice for retailers, with a focus on
education and holding stores to the highest possible standard.

Vice-president Mack Andrews said Friday he was "ecstatic" when he read
about the government's plans to let private retailers take the lead on
weed sales.

Full legislation is expected next week, but in the meantime Andrews
said leaving the brick-andmortar part of the industry in the hands of
entrepreneurs was the right choice. Andrews isn't quite so sure about
government handling online sales, but is pleased residents of rural
Alberta will be able to buy legal marijuana.

Less likely to be happy with the proposed plan is Alberta's largest
union, though it's waiting to see the bill before making any comments.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees passed a resolution at its
annual convention last month calling for publicly owned weed retail
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