Pubdate: Wed, 31 Jan 2018
Source: Cape Breton Post (CN NS)
Copyright: 2018 Cape Breton Post
Author: Chris Shannon
Page: A1


Cannabis to be available in only nine NSLC stores provincewide

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. has chosen its Sydney River outlet as the
only location where you can buy legal recreational cannabis in Cape

Justice Minister Mark Furey and NSLC CEO Bret Mitchell announced
during a news conference in Halifax Tuesday that nine liquor stores
across the province will be renovated to accommodate pot

Furey defended the government's decision to limit the number of
stores, which leaves large swaths of rural Nova Scotia including the
Strait area, the Annapolis Valley and the South

Shore, without a physical pot shop to make a purchase. "When you
compare us per capita to other provinces, (we) aren't unreasonable
although visually one would say there are gaps. We see that," the
minister told reporters.

"But (we're) taking a measured approach to this, the availability
through the stores identified is one element of that supply chain."

The province will be encouraging recreational pot users to make their
purchases online - which includes an option for delivery - as well as
the ability to grow as many as four marijuana plants per household, he

The question of the cost to deliver cannabis to rural addresses,
whether it will cost more depending on location, hasn't been
determined by the NSLC.

Due to the uncertainty of the retail mode, the approach in pot sales
is "reasonable," according to Furey, while admitting the black market
trade will continue to live on. By contrast, the New Brunswick model,
which is operated by the provincial liquor corporation, NB Liquor,
will open up to 20 standalone stores in 15 communities across the province.

Nova Scotia is the only province to have its pot dispensary shops
operate inside a liquor outlet. The Sydney River NSLC store was chosen
because it's a high traffic location, ranking fourth in the province
in terms of beer sales in 2016-17.

And it's that fact that makes Sydney resident Corey Mombourquette

He said people who may have alcohol addiction issues should be able to
access legal pot without having to enter a liquor store.

"To me, it's disgusting what they're planning on doing," said
Mombourquette, who currently uses medicinal weed to treat a severe
head injury and chronic pain.

"There's still a lot of miseducation with (cannabis) and there's a lot
of people who don't understand anything about cannabis. But on that
note, the people who do understand it, they're still not going to want
to purchase (cannabis) next to alcohol and vice versa.

"It just doesn't make sense

the model that they're trying to go with here."

To keep a toe-hold in the industry, Furey said the price per gram will
have to be less than $10.

The minister also said there are at least 13 licensed producers "in
the queue" wanting to supply the province with cannabis product.

"The black market will continue to exist. I've said in the past, this
is progressive, and there are a number of factors that are going to
determine the transition from the illicit product to a legal,
recreational product.

"The price point is going to be important, the unanimity - these are
factors that we don't know how they will impact retail sales."

Karla MacFarlane, the interim leader of the Opposition Progressive
Conservatives, questioned why certain areas of the province are being
left out.

She said it appears the government is opting for cost considerations
over health and safety.

"Obviously this is a great indication that we are going to see a
fostering of the black market continue."

In a news release, NDP justice critic Claudia Chender also raised
black market concerns.

"The Liberal government's approach to cannabis regulation continues to
raise more questions than provide answers," Chender said.

Legislation will prevent

the cannabis products from being displayed in plain view and instead
will be kept in enclosed boxes. The design of the stores hasn't been
finalized, but NSLC CEO Mitchell said all transactions will take place
behind "a wall or semi-opaque entrance" in a modern, well-lit room to
keep it out of view of those under 19.

The dried and fresh cannabis buds, seeds and cannabis oil will all be
available in store, but the NSLC doesn't plan to sell plants.

"It will be full-service but it will be modest as well," Mitchell
said. "We're not looking to spend a whole bunch of money on renovating
these stores."

He said the stores will be renovated over a four-month period with a
target date for opening on July 1, or whenever the federal cannabis
legislation is given Royal Assent.

The stores will range in size from 850 to 2,000 square feet. Mitchell
said pot dispensaries being set up in other provinces are considerably
larger, in the range of 3,000 to 3,500 square feet.

In order to accommodate the dispensaries, the NSLC will phase out its
'Bottle Your Own Wine' section in six of the stores, including the
outlet in Sydney River.

Furey stressed the province will not add any other outlets to the nine
already on the list for at least the next 12 months.

He said the decision on outlet locations and rules on how cannabis
will be sold is the "best option for safety" of those under 19.

He emphasized that all privately run dispensaries are operating

The only legal weed currently available is medicinal cannabis through
the federally regulated market from licensed producers.

- - With files from The Canadian Press
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