Pubdate: Wed, 13 Dec 2017
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Calgary Sun
Page: 16


As we stumble down the cobblestones on the uneven and relatively
unchartered path to marijuana legalization, we're bound to trip once
or twice.

But so far, we have to give props to the provincial government for
appearing to get it right.

So far we have agreed with the legal age of 18, we accept the
private/public sales model and, for the most part, agree with rules on
where you can and can't smoke up.

This week's successful negotiation with the federal government on tax
revenue is another case in point.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci and his provincial counterparts
managed to pry the federal fingers off the spliff long enough to grab
another 25% of the proceeds from the original offer of a 50-50 excise
tax split.

That only makes sense as it's the province that will be doing all the
heavy lifting and dealing with some of the bigger issues that will
come with legalization, such as health, mental health, enforcement,

Much of that money will, we certainly hope, filter down to the
municipalities, who will be dealing with those issues on the ground.

While it remains to be seen if legalization will bring with it a
windfall for all those sharing the pie, Ceci made it clear Ottawa will
not benefit at the province's expense.

"Provinces will bear the responsibility of the regulations, the risks,
the infrastructure, et cetera, to proceed with this federal initiative
…" he said Monday on a conference call following the 75-25 deal.

"What we won't do is foot the bill for the federal government's
campaign promise."

Those are some responsible and welcome words from a man who's taken
his fair share of lumps on this page.

However, where we continue to worry is whether or not government can
make this happen in a cost-effective manner for consumers.

It seems strange talking about it but people are highly unlikely to
welcome over-priced product at the local weed store.

If price points are out of line with what's currently on offer
illegally, one of the biggest reasons for legalization will fail:
taking the drug out of the hands of organized crime and eliminating
all that goes hand in hand with the black market.

A thriving underground weed economy would serve no one - stores,
losing customers, would be hard-pressed to make ends meet and we'd
continue to have the societal issues associated with gangs.

At this point, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he'd like to
see all taxes included in a nation-wide price of $10 per gram.

Time will tell how that price flies with tokers.

But look at the calendar, that time is now just a little over six
months away.
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