Pubdate: Fri, 17 Nov 2017
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The StarPhoenix
Author: Ashley Martin
Page: A4


With 7 1/2 months until marijuana becomes legal in Canada, a group of
Saskatchewan researchers hopes to help inform the complicated
policy-making process the provincial government faces in the months to

The Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS), based at
universities in Regina and Saskatoon, has released a report,
Legalizing & Regulating Cannabis in Saskatchewan.

The provincial government is responsible for setting up all of the
details of a legal cannabis industry, and should have most of the work
in place by June 30.

"It's not going to be easy. I think anything is possible. But it
requires clear thinking," said Jerome Konecsni, an author of the
report and a Saskatoon-based executive-inresidence at JSGS.

"By writing this report, hopefully (we) provide a really good sense of
what needs to be done and what the challenges and what the
opportunities are."

"We're hoping that the policy and the research that we've done will
help facilitate some of that decision making," added co-author George
Hartner, a lecturer in the University of Regina economics department.

The six co-authors - also including Derrick Callan, Jason Childs,
Cynthia Bojkovsky and Kathleen McNutt - have been working since July
to research and write the 96 page report, which offers 40
recommendations to policy-makers on how they might proceed.

On July 1, the federal government plans to legalize production,
distribution and sale of cannabis.

To make this work, the authors suggest forming a committee of
stakeholders, made up of various levels of government, producers,
retailers, various government ministries, health professionals and
First Nations.

Considerations run the gamut from legal age for usage to addressing
impaired driving, production, processing, market distribution,
traceability and quality control among others.

How the legal industry will compete with the illegal market is a big
question for Hartner and Konecsni.

"If the illicit market continues after legalization, we won't see any
of the economic benefits," said Hartner.

Using data from Colorado and other jurisdictions where cannabis is
legal, Hartner and Childs estimated there will be a demand ranging
from 20 to 40 million grams of cannabis per year. A sale of 25 million
grams would generate $25 million in tax revenues and $250 million in
economic benefits.

That tax revenue will be necessary for investing in public education,
additional policing and enforcement, said Konecsni. Additional health
professionals will also be required.

The report recommends a market structure similar to liquor retail -
allowing a limited amount of retail licenses to limit

It suggests private retailers versus public for a better consumer
experience in terms of variety, price and quality.

It also suggests a single, regulated, private distributor that can
oversee product tracking and management, to ensure that cannabis in
stores is legally sourced and safe.
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