Pubdate: Thu, 14 Dec 2017
Source: Truro Daily News (CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 The Daily News
Author: John Demont
Page: A2


It's enough to make you want to roll a big, fat one.

The province is attempting to have a regulatory framework in place
prior to the legalization of marijuana on July 1.

Weekly, maybe daily, the confusion grows over what the brave new world
of legalized weed will look like.

That, in my view, is perfectly understandable as the clock loudly
ticks toward Ottawa's July 1, 2018, deadline for legalization of wacky

The feds have said that the date is hard and fast. Our government is
taking them on their word.

The upshot has been all manner of scrambling around, since seven
months is not nearly as long as it sounds when so momentous a change

So we have the province setting the age for legal pot consumption at
19 - a decision, according to a government poll, widely supported by
Nova Scotians even though experts, including our own chief medical
officer Robert Strang, say that's too young for a whole range of reasons.

We also have the province decreeing that pot will be sold through
certain Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. outlets and online when recreational
marijuana becomes legal next year.

In this case, the government's polling showed that only about half of
Nova Scotians supported that approach.

In fact, a note sent by an NSLC mucky-muck to the outfit's liquor
vendors last week suggested that this decision came to pass even
though the head of the NSLC didn't want to sell weed in existing
liquor store outlets.

On Tuesday, corporation president Bret Mitchell tried to "clarify" his

"The NSLC commends the McNeil government for making a choice that is
rooted in the safety and security of our communities" he said in a
prepared statement, adding, "By placing recreational cannabis within
the current NSLC network, the government has chosen an option that can
accommodate recreational cannabis with minimal costs and that can
evolve as Nova Scotians decide exactly how they prefer to buy and
interact with the product."

I have some sympathy with the province, I really do. Legalized pot is
coming, faster than they would like. Some sort of regulatory framework
needs to be in place.

The natural solution - and who is to say this is how it has to be
forever? - is to use the same retail facilities and system that they
use to peddle hooch.

Yet I'm hardly in the majority here. In these very pages Graham
Steele, who oversaw the NSLC during the Darrell Dexter years, said
that it is too much to ask the commission to take on weed, too. Why
not let the private sector take a shot at it?

The natural beneficiaries of such an approach concur. By that I mean
the medical marijuana dispensaries, for now operating in a legal
limbo, routinely raided by the local constabulary like oldtime
Prohibition-era speakeasys.

"Most of the dispensaries in the province are locally owned, small
businesses," says an on-line petition on behalf of the medical
cannabis dispensaries of the Maritime provinces asking Ottawa to
license them rather than the NSLC to handle pot sales in Nova Scotia.
"Dispensaries create jobs to provide the clearly needed local,
affordable, and safe access to medical cannabis. Dispensaries are the
true cannabis crusaders."

Of course retailers, whoever they are, need something to sell. Even
that seems to be up in the air in these unsettled times.

So far Health Canada has issued licences for just two cannabis growers
in Nova Scotia.

"We would hope to have product available when cannabis is legalized
for recreational use," Bill Sanford, CEO of Wentworth Valley-based
Breathing Green Solutions, the province's first licensee, said Tuesday.

But the whole certification process takes six to nine months. And
neither Breathing Green Solutions or THC Inc. of Antigonish County -
the province's only other licensed producer - have approval to sell
what they grow.

Add this number to the mix: The average weed crop requires 4-5 months
of growing before it is ready for market.

Was it any surprise, then, to see Premier Stephen McNeil right there
with the other Atlantic premiers Monday, expressing his concern that
his province, like the others, might not have enough pot to go around
next July?

In the picture I saw from the news conference, he looks unhappy about
the whole situation.

All of them do.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt