Pubdate: Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Source: Amherst News (CN NS)
Copyright: TC Media 2018
Author: Lawrence Powell
Page: A9


Users will have to drive to Yarmouth or Lower Sackville to purchase

When marijuana becomes legal across Canada July 1, Annapolis Valley
residents won't be buying any of the recreational drug from their
local NSLC. In fact, they'll have to drive all the way to Yarmouth or
Lower Sackville.

If you're on the South Shore or Eastern Shore, you're also out of
luck. If you're in Liverpool, you'll have to drive to metro or Yarmouth.

Justice Minister Mark Furey introduced a cautious rollout of the sales
of cannabis in Nova Scotia Tuesday with only nine locations-four of
them in HRM - selling the product. Amherst, Truro, New Glasgow, Sydney
River, and Yarmouth are the only locations outside of the metro area.

He said the factors included in making the selections were based on
NSLC space available to be converted, the concerns around the
transition from an illicit drug to a recreational drug, and the as-yet
untried business case for actual sales of legal pot.

And in a news conference at noon, he repeatedly pushed the online
purchase option that will be available. There are no details yet on
how that will work. And Nova Scotians will be able to grow up to four
pot plants per household.

"We recognize that not everybody has access to high speed Internet,
but that online home delivery option will still serve a purpose,"
Furey said in response to questions from the Annapolis Valley
Register. "We also believe that there will be people who will grow
their own product, so in this approach we're trying to address those
circumstances. But as I said earlier (in the press conference) there's
a lot of unknown in the space of how busy these retail models are
going to be and what the uptake will be on that online delivery and
what percentage of the population will actually grow their own
product. So you know the next year is going to be a period of analysis
and we'll see what the future holds when it comes to what the retail
model and one's ability to access recreational cannabis will be going

"We've said from the outset our priorities are public safety,
particularly around our youth, and our ability to mitigate the illicit
market and transition consumers to a legal recreational market," Furey

"We believe the steps that we are taking will help us get there. That
differs from the approach other provinces are taking. We believe this
approach is the first approach that will help us meet our

"I personally was blown away to see the limited options people will
have as far as retail outlets they can go to to purchase cannabis,"
said Debbie Stultz-Giffin who heads up the Maritimers United for
Medical Marijuana Society.

"Absolutely shocked. If they think they're going undermine the black
market in this province by only offering nine retail outlets, most of
them based in liquor corporations, they're sadly, sadly mistaken."

One of the outlets being refurbished to sell pot is the former Clyde
Street NSLC in Halifax that will reopen to sell cannabis

Stultz-Giffin, from West Dalhousie in Annapolis County, would have to
drive two hours to access an NSLC outlet that sells cannabis - and
another two hours home. She said the drive would be to purchase
cannabis she expects will be well in excess of black market prices.

Stultz-Giffin said the online purchase option may do something to
allow rural Nova Scotians access to marijuana, but she's not convinced.

"Sitting back and looking at the whole scenario, many of the people
who consume cannabis on a recreational basis do lastminute purchases
on a Friday night," she said. "It's an economically deprived province
and most people live paycheque to paycheque, so how are they going to
be able to purchase cannabis online in advance of perhaps a weekend

It just doesn't seem like a practical solution at all when most people
would be looking at at least a two-day delivery time I would imagine."

She said that while the planned roll-out will put many recreational
users at a disadvantage in most of the province, those who use
cannabis for medical reasons will be just as impacted and their health
will suffer.

"Anybody who has to drive those overwhelming distances to purchase
cannabis will end up being disadvantaged by the whole process," she
said. "The last I heard there were only eight per cent of the doctors
in this province authorizing patients to use cannabis. So patients
that go to other doctors who refuse to sign their licenses will again
be denied access if they have to make that long of a trip to purchase
their medicine."

John Percy, secretary of MUMM, said nine outlets may be sufficient for
Halifax but the province would need 40 or 50 NSLC outlets to handle
initial demand.

"If they want to compete with 'organized crime, (whatever that is)
this is the wrong way to go about it," Percy said. "The province
ignored every single recommendation we made to it. It appears we are
not alone in that. They ignored everybody's input. I think they have a
preconceived notion and were just toying with us all."

About Control

Percy said private dispensaries work well but the province couldn't
get a handle on how to control and regulate them.

"That requires work," Percy said. "The method they have chosen
requires no real effort. It's always been about control and nothing

Percy said MUMM met with deputy ministers from Health, Justice, and
with the Chief Medical Officer for Nova Scotia.

"We were told that Finance was the lead agency on this file," he said.
"That should tell you all you need to know about how they would direct
their efforts."

Asked about the online purchase option, Percy was not

"Online is fine if you have a credit card," he said. "I don't and I
know many people who also don't have a credit card. It also depends on
supply and strain availability. Are we going to rely on the
'expertise' of government bureaucrats as to what strains they will
carry? There is nothing to stop me from buying online from a site
outside Nova Scotia. How will that help their bottom line?"
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt